Wednesday 30 October 2019

Exploring Nature at Night

When most people think about getting outdoors and exploring nature, it will be in forests or fields during the day but did you know there are lots of exciting things to explore in the dark too? Just getting out in the dark to stand in the garden or walk down the street can lead to some excellent wild experiences. At night, the world is still alive with things to see and hear, from nocturnal creatures to the awesome night sky. There is always something to explore!  

We do not often go out after dark. To be honest, it can be difficult when you have young children. But now the nights are drawing in and the days are shorter, it is the perfect time to go out after dark and see what you can find! Whether you live in the town or country, you are sure to discover plenty of nocturnal nature on your doorstep. There is a whole night-time world out there just waiting for you to explore it! Let's take a look at the kinds of things you might spot during night-time nature exploration.


It can be tricky to see animals at night but you might be able to find them if you follow their tracks, smell their scent or find some poo. Snow or soft ground is the best place to look. You may not be able to see them clearly but you can often make out which creature left the mark. Some animals walk the same tracks each day and if you follow them you may be able to discover their den.

Animals such as foxes and grass snakes leave a strong smell. These smelly trails will mark their territory or attract a mate. As it is more difficult to see in the dark, scent-marking is an important part of communication for them.

Animal droppings are another sign that an animal may be nearby. Some mammals mark their territories this way so you may find it in quite obvious places. Badgers poo in the same place so if you find a big pile of badger poo there may well be a sett nearby. Rabbit droppings may also be found in piles in latrines. Bat droppings may be found stuck to walls or on the ground under their roost. 

Animals you may find at night

  • Mammals: bats, mice, rats, voles, rabbits, hares, moles, hedgehogs, foxes, badgers and cats.
  • Moths
  • Night-time minibeasts: earthworms, spiders, lacewigs, centipedes, woodlice, fireflies, slugs, crickets, snails, millipedes, cockchafer beetles, water boatmen and pond skaters.
  • Amphibians: frogs, toads and newts
  • Birds: owls, nightingales and nightjars


When you are outdoors in the dark, you may notice the strong smell of flowers. This is because many flowers give out more scent after the sun has gone down! Many of these flowers will be white or pale in colour making it easier for insects to see them when it's dark. A garden full of night-scented flowers will attract lots of night-time wildlife, such as moths and bats. 

Night-time flowers

buddleia, jasmine, eryngium giganteum, nicotiana, night phlox, honeysuckle, wisteria, verbana, globe artichoke, caryopteris, hebe, evening primrose

The night sky

Apart from wildlife, the night sky offers an amazing array of things to observe. The moon, stars, comets, planets and galaxies are among the wondrous objects to take a look at. What's more, you don't need any special equipment because you can see around 8,500 stars with your eyes alone!

In towns and cities the light pollution from street lamps may be high and this decreases our ability to see those heavenly objects. Therefore, try to get outdoors in a place that has little light pollution if you would like to get a better look. 

One of the best things to do with children is to observe the moon because it is so easily visible (unless it is cloudy, of course!) Learn about the moon phases and track them across the month. Another great thing to do is search for patterns in the stars. These patterns are called constellations and learning to recognise a few is both fun and satisfying.

Learn more

Would you like to learn more about the night sky? I am so excited to be focusing on the night sky this month in my members area! Astronomy is one of my favourite topics and I can't wait to share lots of amazing facts and activities with you! 

Exploring the Night Sky will cover:

  • The equipment you might need for exploring the night sky with your children.
  • Tips for getting out and observing the sky at night.
  • Facts, activities and experiments for learning about the moon.
  • Facts, activities and experiments for learning about the stars.
  • The autumn night sky.
It is going to be a fun-filled month that will bring the night sky to life for you and your children! Join now and enjoy a 20% discount before 1st November!

CLICK HERE to register


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