A new survey has revealed the continued decline in sightings of some of our most familiar and favourite garden wildlife, with the RSPB calling on people across West Yorkshire to take up the Wild Challenge this summer to uncover the mysterious creatures living in their garden.

More than 100,000 wildlife enthusiasts around the UK, including over 6800 in West Yorkshire took part in the survey. Results from the county showed that hedgehogs were seen in two-thirds of gardens or outdoor spaces.

Moles spend most of their lives alone, digging tunnels and hunting for food only occasionally coming to the surface. In West Yorkshire gardens, both the creatures themselves and their more familiar molehills were unseen in over half of outdoor spaces. Great crested newts also went unseen to the majority of people throughout the county, as the secretive reptile wasn’t spotted in around two-thirds of gardens.

For the second year running participants were asked to keep an eye out for foxes and stoats. The results showed that foxes remained a common garden visitor in West Yorkshire with almost 70 per cent spotting one throughout the year.

Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientists, said: “Often the wildlife we see in our garden is the first experience we have with nature – whether it’s a robin perched on the fence or a hedgehog snuffling around looking for its next meal. Unfortunately, the sights and sounds of wildlife that was once common to us are sadly becoming more mysterious to people.

“There are simple things we can all do to make our gardens perfect of wildlife. From creating a feeding station for birds or hedgehogs to digging a small pond to help amphibians, these easy activities can help turn your garden into a wildlife haven.”

With the wildlife on people’s doorsteps becoming increasingly mysterious to them, the RSPB is calling on West Yorkshire families to spend more time outside this summer and reconnect with the nature that surrounds them by taking on the Wild Challenge.

By completing fun and engaging activities ranging from minibeast safaris and rock pooling to creating a hedgehog cafe and planting for wildlife, families can take their first steps on their own wild adventure. There are 24 activities to choose from that will take you from your own back garden to exploring towns, cities, woodlands and even the coast.

Emma Reed, RSPB Education, Families and Youth Manager in Northern England, said:  “Studies have shown how getting outside and discovering nature is really important for children’s mental and physical well being and it also provides memorable, fun family time. Every child should have the opportunity to connect with nature so the RSPB’s Wild Challenge is a great way to take your family on a wild adventure.”

The RSPB’s ambition is for the Wild Challenge to help more families across the country reap the benefits of spending time outside in nature. Research has shown that children who have a healthy connection to nature are more likely to benefit from higher achievement at school, better mental and physical health, and develop stronger social skills.

This school holiday, RSPB Fairburn Ings is inviting families to take on the Wild Challenge. With a helping hand from staff and volunteers, children can earn their nature awards this summer – or just have a great time outdoors.

Each Wednesday in August there will be a different activity based on the RSPB’s Wild Challenge, the new online award scheme encouraging children and their families to go out and get closer to the natural world. By completing activities ranging from minibeast safaris to creating a compost heap and planting for wildlife, families can log their achievements on to the RSPB Wild Challenge website and collect their rewards.

Drop into Fairburn Ings any time between 11am and 3pm, collect your ticket from the visitor centre (each child £2.50) and get wild in our secret paddock. No need to book.

Dates: 2 August, 9 August, 16 August, 23 August, 30 August.

Signing up to take part in  the Wild Challenge is free. For a full list of activities visit www.rspb.org.uk/wildchallenge

For more information on the event at Fairburn Ings: www.rspb.org.uk/fairburnings

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