A new survey has revealed a continued decline in sightings of some of our best known and loved wildlife such as the hedgehog.
The nature conservation charity RSPB is calling on people in Devon to take up the Wild Challenge this summer to uncover the mysterious creatures living in their garden.
Results from the survey of more than 100,000 wildlife enthusiasts showed that hedgehogs had been seen in 60 per cent of UK gardens or outdoor spaces last year. The spiny mammals were absent from a quarter of gardens. This pattern was apparent across all four countries, with the figure rising close to 30 per cent in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Foxes were the most common garden visitor after being spotted in 70 per cent of UK gardens. Other creatures such as slow worms, great crested newts and stoats were seen by a lucky few.
RSPB spokesman Morwenna Alldis said: "The results of this survey in Devon highlight how vital it is that we all take steps towards giving nature a home in our own gardens and green spaces.
"With an increasing loss of natural habitats, food and water, and changes to our climate, many of our local wildlife species are increasingly relying on our urban gardens and we need to do more to welcome them.
"No matter the size of your outdoor space – a window box, a paved courtyard or a lush lawn – with a few simple steps you can help your local wildlife to survive and thrive."
The RSPB has announced the top four species that survey participants reported having seen in their Devon gardens on at least a monthly basis over the past year.
Morwenna said: "Stealing the number one trophy and spotted in 35 per cent of our Devon gardens is the mole. The fox stealthily scooped second, reported in 30 per cent of Devon gardens. Devon's hedgehogs snuffled into third place – only 25 per cent of Devon gardens spotted them. In fourth place, slow worms slithered into 17 per cent of Devon gardens. And fifth place was claimed by the stag beetle – five per cent of your Devon gardens played host to them on at least a monthly basis."
RSPB conservation scientist Daniel Hayhow 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 for 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 Devon doorsteps becoming increasingly mysterious to them, the RSPB is calling on 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 the coast.
RSPB families manager Paul Birmingham said: "Getting outside and discovering nature is important whether your motivation is happy healthy children, memorable family time or to see our towns and countryside richer in nature. The opportunity to connect with nature should be a part of every child's life and the RSPB's Wild Challenge is here to help every family go on their own 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.
More information about the Wild Challenge can be found on the RSPB website.