This blog is a celebration of the nature in the South East and highlights ways you can get involved and explore nature in the region. If you've got news of the South East’s nature that you'd like to share, please contact the RSPB South East office on 01273 775333 or email SERComms@rspb.org.uk
Capture iconic UK landmarks on camera at the RSPB’s Lade Pits reserve, Kent.
Immerse yourself in military history at the RSPB’s Lade Pits reserve, Kent, as you learn about the iconic concrete structures known as the Sound Mirrors.
The 200ft concrete structures are fascinating pieces of history. Developed as an early form of RADAR, they dominate the landscape at the RSPB Lade Pits nature reserve, and are situated on an island within the middle of the reserve.
Regularly featured in films, fashion shoots and music videos, access to the island is only granted to the public on rare occasions.
Between now and December, the RSPB are opening the site to history enthusiasts and photographers wanting a striking new subject for their hobby.
RSPB Lade Pits is a reclaimed quarry, and is the only site in the world where you can find all three types of these listening devices together. The peaceful lakes and undisturbed shingle now also provide a quiet haven for rare species including migrating osprey and nesting grebes.
These Saturday tours, which take place on 18 August, 8th September and 6th October, offer you the exclusive opportunity to get up close to the scheduled monuments. Discover how they were developed as aircraft detection devices between WW1 & WW2 and view incredible photographs of their construction.
The day will begin at the RSPB Dungeness Visitor Centre, and guests are encouraged to bring lunch for a picnic under the iconic 200ft Mirror wall (weather permitting). Expert guides will be on hand to answer your questions about the site’s history and help you get closer to the wildlife they are working to protect throughout the day.
Prices start from £48 per person, and with limited places available, guests are encouraged to book in advance. Read full details and book your place here.
These self-led photography sessions will include a brief introduction to the site and its history, before guests will be encouraged to explore the structures in small groups, getting shots from angles not often captured.
Prices start from £35 per person, and with limited places available, guests are encouraged to book in advance. Read full details and to book your place here.
What is Wild Challenge?
Wild Challenge is a brilliant opportunity for families to connect with the natural world in exciting new ways – to reach out and touch it and meet it head-on, up-close and personal.
Our free online Wild Challenge activities are divided into two sections – helping and experiencing nature. There are a range of fun challenges to choose from and bronze, silver and gold awards to achieve depending on how many you complete.
Wild Challenge is run in partnership with Aldi, who have donated over £2 million from the sale of their single-use carrier bags in the first two years of the partnership alone!
Activity in focus: Pond Dipping
One of the wild activities that you can take part in is Pond Dipping. Beneath the surface of the water, there's an unseen world of amazing wildlife ready to be discovered.
Pond dipping is something we can all do and it's loads of fun! There are all sorts of interesting creatures living 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 perhaps!
So why don’t you set off on an expedition to your garden pond, or find a lake in a park near your home? All you need to find out what lives in the water is a net (you can find out how to make your own one here), a tray or a tub to put your finds in, spoons to look at the minibeasts that you find more closely and an ID sheet or a pond guide (you can download one here).
Approach the water quietly and slowly. This will give you the best chance to see the wildlife, not only in the water, but also by the water's edge. Once you’re at the water’s edge, look into the water first. This will give you a moment to see what it is you may catch, how it moves and where it hides! Then, slowly lower your net into the water. To keep the water flowing through the net, move it gently in a figure of eight motion. After a few loops gently lift it out, and place inside out in the water in your tray. The catch is then ready to be observed. You can figure out what you’ve caught by using the ID sheet.
Want some help from the experts?
If you want some expert help to get started on our Wild Challenge activities or just want to discover some new species you might not have at home, then why not book a place on one of our reserve Big Wild Sleepout events? You'll be able to tick off several Wild Challenges all at the same time then too!
Our Big Wild Sleepout activities are the perfect opportunity to get stuck into Wild Challenge.
You may end up with a whirligig beetle or one of the three species of newts in your net at RSPB Pulborough Brooks or RSPB Pagham Harbour. You might even spot a water vole in the reedbed at RSPB Rainham Marshes. For a really weird and wonderful experience, hunt for medicinal leeches and water scorpions at RSPB Dungeness!
Our Big Wild Sleepout events are once-a-year opportunity to camp out with us under the stars and take part in a whole host of wild activities that can all count towards your Wild Challenge award! Other activities include ‘tracking and signs, bug safari and moth trapping. Booking is essential, and for full details of each South East reserve event you can read our Big Wild Sleepout blog or click on the reserve name above!
This guest blog was written by Libby Morris, a content writer volunteer. To find out more about volunteering visit http://bit.ly/volrspb
Activity in focus: Bug Safari
One of the wild activities that you can take part in is going on a ‘Bug Safari’. Some wildlife is so tiny that it’s hard to see. The best way to see it is to bug-out and go out exploring in a world full of tiny creatures - the land of the minibeast!
From beautiful butterflies and dainty ladybirds to slimy slugs and impressive shield bugs - no matter where you are, you're sure to have a critter-packed safari. You can find bugs everywhere - under logs and rocks, beneath pots, on leaves, in the grass and on walls. Bug hunting is bags of fun and all you really need are eagle eyes and an explorer's spirit.
If you want to take a closer look at your tiny friends, all you’ll need is our minibeast ID sheet, a chunky, soft bristled paint brush, a bug pot (a jam jar is fine), a pooter, a magnifying glass and a camera or pens and paper. Then, you just need to head out into your garden or a local green space such as a park or playing field.
The trick is to get to their level - get up close and explore the little dark, damp and cosy nooks that a minibeast might like to call its home. Dark damp spots under rocks and logs are particularly good hunting grounds for things like worms, woodlice and spiders. You'll most likely find critters like ladybirds, caterpillars and aphids on flowers, plants and leaves.
If you'd like to take a closer look, use your paintbrush to gently brush the bug into your jar (some of them are pretty quick so keep practising!) This will give you a chance to take a closer look with your magnifying glass, work out what you've caught and take a picture or do a drawing of your find. Remember not to leave your bugs in the jar too long, particularly if it hasn't got any air holes. Always put your bug back carefully where you found it and replace upturned rocks and logs!
If you want some expert help to get started on this activity or just want to discover some new species you don't have at home, then why not book a place on one of our reserve Big Wild Sleepout events? You'll be able to tick off several Wild Challenges all at the same time then too!
Our Big Wild Sleepout tracking exercises are the perfect opportunity to find out more about the incredible world of bugs and insects.
You could go hunting for ladybirds and larvae at RSPB Pagham Harbour, or listen out for rare field crickets chirping across RSPB Farnham Heath.
Our Big Wild Sleepout events are once-a-year opportunity to camp out with us under the stars and take part in a whole host of wild activities that can all count towards your Wild Challenge award! Other activities include ‘tracking and signs’, pond dipping and moth trapping.
Booking in advance is essential, and for full details of each South East reserve event you can read our Big Wild Sleepout blog or click on the reserve name above!