Go wild at RSPB Loch Leven

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My name is Rhona and I'm a massive nature geek. I was lucky enough to grow up in the countryside, surrounded by fields to run in, streams to 'fish' in with the kitchen seive, trees to climb and dens to build. Once school was out we were always outdoors, fighting our way through thick clumps of bracken to reach the top of a hill, scoffing brambles from thorny bushes and spending hours playing in the tree house (which in reality, was nothing more than a small wooden platform but to us it might as well have been Buckingham Palace!).

Dad was an adventurer; full of knowledge about the rock formations, the trees, the wildlife and the changes that came with each season. At the time I soaked it all up like a sponge but sadly much of it has since been forgotten. He used to lead us on 'midnight walks' in the garden, armed with a torch, to catch a glimpse of owls and hedgehogs, and we even had a 'bat detector' which made their sounds audible.

The highlight of our summer was attending our local RSPB reserve, where we sometimes stayed for 'camps'. We always returned home full of fresh stories and memories, and on one occassion in my case a particularly sore foot from having stood on a stickleback (a tiny, spiky fish). 

So, why am I telling you all this? Because before I knew it adolescense set in; my trusty bug collecter lay gathering dust while I desperately practised applying eye liner in my room, and the annual RSPB membership was replaced by a Heat subscription. Almost twenty years later of living and working in a city and my love of nature and the outdoors has been reignited since becoming a parent. I want to be able to feed Freya's curious little mind with all sorts of wonder, far beyond the realms of anything an iPad can.

The RSPB nature reserve at Loch Leven, just outside Kinross, has loads of fantastic activities on over the next few months for kids and families to take part in. The details for these are below, and I'd love to bump into as many of you there as possible!

RSPB Loch Leven holding bugsWildlife Explorers: Bugs, bugs glorious bugs

Sun 28 May1-3pm

Loch Leven Wildlife Explorers group is open to children aged 5 to 12 years and takes place on the last Sunday of each month between August and June. Under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. To register for the group please contact the group leader lochlevenWEX@rspb.org.uk The annual fee is £15 or £10 for RSPB members.

Nature tots: All about sticks

Wed 14 June, 10am – 12pm

Come along with your budding wildlife adventurers for a journey through the seasons. This popular monthly event, for families with children aged 5 and under, starts with a story and is packed with creative ideas and surprises; getting you outside and playing in nature. Please dress for the weather – pack your wellies!

Booking essential; RSPB members £3, non members £6 (per family)

Summer holiday wild challenges

Every day from Fri 23 June – 15 August, 10 am - 4 pm

Discover the wildlife of Loch Leven by taking part in our exciting self-led activities. Collect kit from the visitor centre and get stuck in. Try the different themes, including; brilliant birds; tracks and signs; bug safari; pond dipping; and amazing moths.

Just drop in. Prices range £1 - £3 per child (reserve entry not included)

Wildlife Explorers: Big Day Out

Sun 25 June1-3pm

Loch Leven Wildlife Explorers group is open to children aged 5 to 12 years and takes place on the last Sunday of each month between August and June. Under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. To register for the group please contact the group leader lochlevenWEX@rspb.org.uk The annual fee is £15 or £10 for RSPB members.

Easter RSPB girl in grassMagnificent meadows

Sat 1 July 11am – 3pm

Meet in the bumblebee meadow to celebrate National Meadows Day. Get up close to beautiful moths, learn survey techniques, sweep netting and get to know wild flowers and bees.

Standard reserve entry charge applies, FREE for members

Nature tots: Brilliant bugs

Wed 12 July, 10am – 12pm

Go along with your budding wildlife adventurers for a journey through the seasons. This popular monthly event, for families with children aged 5 and under, starts with a story and is packed with creative ideas and surprises; getting you outside and playing in nature. Please dress for the weather – pack your wellies!

Booking essential; RSPB members £3, non members £6 (per family)

Loch Leven Photomarathon

Sat 15 July, 10am - 4pm

Six hours, six topics, six photos. Meet at RSPB Loch Leven reserve at 10 am to be given three secret topics. You have three hours to take one photo per topic. Return to the start point at 1pm for the next three topics. Winning portfolios will be displayed in the visitor centre. 

Booking essential; £5 per team/family (plus normal reserve entry charge)

Woodland warriors

Mon 17 – Fri 21 July, 10 am – 3.30 pm

Join the forest school leaders to learn the skills of forest survival! Build dens, make fire, learn tracking skills, camouflage yourself, and more. Children aged 8+ only. Bring packed lunch and outdoor clothing.

Booking essential; £20 per day, £80 per week, RSPB Wildlife Explorer member £16 per day, £64 per week

Easter RSPB girl pulling ropeBig Wild Sleepout

Sat 29 – Sun 30 July, set up from 10am on Sat

Go for a night camping under the stars and connect with nature as the nocturnal wildlife comes to life on the reserve. Join in with bat and moth walks, enjoy wildlife and bushcraft activities and toast marshmallows on the fire. Facilities: toilets, wash basins, hot water, barbeque.

Booking essential, limited pitches available.

Adults £40, Children £20, family £120 (2 adults and up to 3 children), RSPB member adult £34, Wildlife Explorer member £16, RSPB member family £100

Nature tots: Underwater life

Wed 9 Aug 10am – 12pm

Bring your budding wildlife adventurers for a journey through the seasons. This popular monthly event, for families with children aged 5 and under, starts with a story and is packed with creative ideas and surprises; getting you outside and playing in nature. Please dress for the weather – pack your wellies!

Booking essential; RSPB members £3, non members £6 (per family)

Animal tracks and signs

Tues 15 Aug, 7pm – 9pm

Join the warden on an evening walk around the woodland and hill looking at animal tracks and signs. As well as using traditional tracking methods you will also get the chance to use some more modern equipment including trail cameras, thermal imagers and bat detectors to discover what secretive mammals live on the reserve. Sensible clothing and footwear are essential.

Booking essential; RSPB Members £10, non members £15

Easter RSPB girl with frogWildlife Explorers

Sun 27 Aug1-3pm

Loch Leven Wildlife Explorers group is open to children aged 5 to 12 years and takes place on the last Sunday of each month between August and June. Under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. To register for the group please contact the group leader lochlevenWEX@rspb.org.uk.The annual fee is £15 or £10 for RSPB members.

Organic September

All month

Join RSPB Loch Leven as they celebrate all things organic and try delicious samples from the Soil Association gold award cafe menu. Learn about wildlife friendly farming and local producers that are making a difference and pick up an organic explorer challenge for the wee ones. Just drop in.

Wild night: Bat walk

Fri 8 Sep, 8pm – 9.30pm

Explore the reserve at night to see and hear the different types of bats found here.  Up to five species of these fascinating nocturnal creatures could be spotted, including the rare Nathusius Pipistrelle bat which has only been found at two sites in Fife and Kinross.

Booking essential; RSPB members £6, non members £8, RSPB Wildlife Explorer member £2, non member child £4

Nature tots: Trees

Wed 13 Sep, 10am – 12pm

Come along with your budding wildlife adventurers for a journey through the seasons. This popular monthly event, for families with children aged 5 and under, starts with a story and is packed with creative ideas and surprises; getting you outside and playing in nature. Please dress for the weather – pack your wellies!

Booking essential; RSPB members £3, non members £6 (per family)

Wildlife Explorers

Sun 24 Sep1-3pm

Loch Leven Wildlife Explorers group is open to children aged 5 to 12 years and takes place on the last Sunday of each month between August and June. Under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. To register for the group please contact the group leader lochlevenWEX@rspb.org.uk. The annual fee is £15 or £10 for RSPB members.

With thanks to photographers Helen Patience & Andy Hay for these great images (rspb-images.com). More info on the events and booking can be done at the RSPB Loch Leven website>

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