RSPB Conservation Manager Stuart Benn is looking forward to the Big Wild Sleepout. Will you be participating?

It’s the best time of the day...

I’ve always been something of a magpie, always on the lookout for pictures or words that ‘stick to the eyes’, things that I can keep in mind and refer back to. So, when I was on the Tube a couple of weeks ago and saw an advert with the tagline – ‘It’s the best time of the day, the night-time’ – it stayed with me.

And that image neatly sums up the thinking behind the RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout – a chance to experience being out at night, to peer into that unfamiliar world, to see things in a different light, to be a part of the magic.

Well it’s nearly here, it’s next weekend, are you up for it?! We know that there’s loads of people coming up with their own ideas or signing up to the organised events up and down the country and our fingers are crossed that the weather will cooperate.

Tent and moth trap.

Last weekend we delved into the cupboard, got the tent out and headed up into the glens for a dry (hopefully!) run. We arrived mid-evening and found the perfect spot, beautiful and still, with the spotted flycatcher, redstart, swallow and house martin families having a great time trying to put a dent in the local midge population. But, a bit of repellent saw us alright as we got the tent up and set out a couple of moth traps. Soon done and then all we needed to do was relax with a cup of tea and watch the world soften and darken until the only light came from the traps and the twinkling stars.

Spotted flycatcher (RSPB images).

We turned in for a sound sleep as the lovely night turned into a lovely morning – up early but the birds had beaten us to it and were already on midge patrol. Quick cup of tea and then it was time to check the traps. It’s been said that there’s a bit of theatre about checking a moth catch and it does feel like that – you never quite know what you’ll find, it’s a voyage of discovery and the chance to get up close to such beautifully patterned insects is always fun.

Brin thought so too and checked out an Antler moth – still doing OK here in the north but in big trouble further south as is the case with the redstarts, flycatchers and hundreds of other species. We need to find out why this is happening and start putting it right – pronto.    

Brin and Antler moth.

We were all done by 9am so could leisurely pack up as the day warmed – and there was still nearly all of it ahead of us to enjoy!

It had been great fun - the night-time really is the best part of the day. But don’t take my word for it, join us this weekend for moths, walks, bats, campfires, stars, surprises, mystery and find out for yourself!