Go on a twilight trek and spot nocturnal animals

Boy with head torch and torch looking in tree
What will you discover next time you're in the woods? (Photo: Dan Lee/WTML)

Owls hooting, rustles in the undergrowth, bats swooping and flitting… the woods are a fascinating place to be at night. And the summer holidays is the perfect time for a woodland wander past your usual bedtime. It’s a little bit scary, but that’s all part of the fun!

Preparing for your walk

It’s best to be in the woods when dusk falls as this is a great time to spot nocturnal animals as they come out to feed, so check sunset times when planning. You could also check the phase of the moon and aim for a moonlit night.

Take a route that you already know well so you don’t get lost. In the dark, it will seem new and exciting.

Wear dark clothes that don’t rustle when you move to avoid scaring animals away. Bring extra layers as it can get chilly after dark, even if the day has been hot. Long sleeves and trousers tucked into socks will protect against insects that bite at dusk.

Pack a snack, and perhaps a flask of hot chocolate.

Don’t forget a torch and spare batteries, although it’s best not to use it to too much and just let your eyes adjust to the dark.

Remember – never wander off into the woods without a grown-up.

Nocturnal animals

The woods are even more exciting at night, as lots of animals and minibeasts snuffle and scurry through the undergrowth. Our twilight trek has lots of hints and tips for spotting animals that come out at night.

Sit down on a log, turn off your torch and keep very still. What can you hear? As well as owls, you may hear the song of other birds such as nightjars and nightingales.

Look out for nocturnal animals like foxes, hedgehogs, mice and – if you’re lucky – badgers. You may have to be very patient and very quiet! And keep your eyes peeled for bats as they leave their roosts to hunt for insects. Use our handy nocturnal animals ID sheet to help you identify what you spot.

Turn on your torch and wait for the moths to gather round. You can use our spotter sheet to identify them.

Spooky silhouettes

Who can find the spookiest tree silhouette? Take a picture with a camera or phone.

Have a go at making shadow puppets with your hands. Can you make a deer? Or a fox?

Stargazing

Find a clearing, lie on the ground and look up at the sky. In the woods there is less artificial light from housing and street lights so the stars will seem especially bright. Watch out for shooting stars and, if you see one, don’t forget to make a wish!

Bedtime story

When you get home, snuggle up and read a bedtime story.

Moon Forest by Patricia MacCarthy (Frances Lincoln) is a beautifully illustrated story book about what goes on in the forest at night – great for kids aged 3 plus.

What's your favourite thing about night-time?

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