People taking part in the RSPB's annual Big Wild Sleepout this weekend are in for a busy night of wildlife watching after the warm July weather has lead to a surge in sightings of many nocturnal creatures such as owls, bats, moths and hedgehogs.
For the fourth year running, the conservation charity is encouraging families across the UK to go on a mini-adventure, get wild and discover the secret world of wildlife on their doorstep by taking part in the Sleepout and camping out in their gardens or other places.
After a damp June - with rainfall more than twice the average in some areas of the UK - the warmer July weather has led to an increase in moth and insect activity which has meant a rise in sightings of other nocturnal wildlife out taking advantage of the free supper.
Ben Andrew, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, said: "The UK is home to 2500 species of moth but like many nocturnal creatures they are the stuff of mystery - enigmatic species that we rarely see. The warmer weather has meant species like hedgehogs, badgers, bats and owls are out earlier looking for moths and other food in gardens and outdoor spaces, providing people with the best opportunity to see them."
• The drier weather will mean certain species may struggle to find food - badgers and hedgehogs that rely on soft ground for worms, slugs or snails will be out earlier snuffling through gardens looking for food and looking for a free meal under bird feeders.
• Moths and nocturnal insects come alive on a warm night to so expect to see a rise in the number buzzing around. This in turn will lead to more bats whizzing about trying to take advantage of the free flying food.
• Bats aren't the only species enjoying the extra moth and insect activity - tawny owls, barn owls and little owls all relish the additional flying food so there is a high chance of spotting one during the Sleepout.
Thousands of people are expected to take advantage of the swell in nocturnal wildlife sightings by having Sleepouts in their gardens, after the RSPB received a record 30,000 Sleepout pack requests.
James Harding-Morris, RSPB Big Wild Sleepout organiser, said: "Spending time as a family in nature is something special - whether it's camping out under the stars, seeing your first hedgehog or building a den. The Big Wild Sleepout is the perfect opportunity for children and families to break free of the norm and spend a night out in the wild looking for the amazing animals around us that thrive in the dark.
"The Sleepout aims to bring the next generation of young people a step closer to nature - spending time outside learning more about the wildlife that surrounds them."
For the second year running Rohan, designer and supplier of outdoor clothing and footwear, is supporting the Sleepout.
Roger Cann, Managing Director for Rohan, said: "We're delighted to be involved in this year's Big Wild Sleepout again as getting people outdoors, discovering local wildlife and having fun whilst doing so is something Rohan supports. Whether it's wrapping up warm with base layers or waterproofs to keep the rain out, the RSPB's novice or experienced naturalists can kit themselves out for a night in the wild, whatever the weather."
For more information about the RSPB's Big Wild Sleepout - www.rspb.org.uk/Sleepout