Spring has finally sprung, and with it comes the perfect opportunity to embrace the great outdoors. As the days get longer and the temperatures rise, there’s no better time to plan for some outdoor family bonding time.
We’ve got it all here in the UK — from incredible beaches and ancient, mystical forests, to lush sloping meadows and majestic mountain ranges. Spring’s arrival represents our first opportunity to watch life blossom — whether that’s the blooming of our native wildflowers or the return of migratory birds.
There’s no shortage of spectacles, all you’ve got to do is know how to enjoy them — that’s why the RSPB Shop has curated this handy guide to help you get the most out of the season. Below, you’ll find activity ideas suitable for the whole family, along with tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your day.
1. Go birdwatching
Feeling inspired by David Attenborough’s latest documentary, Wild Isles? If so, spring is the perfect time to catch a glimpse of some of the UK’s most majestic bird species, and experience the amazing wildlife that exists right on your doorstep. From the small yet mighty swallow to the graceful aerial acrobatics of the swift, we’re fortunate to host some of the world’s most stunning birds during our warmer months. So if you’re keen on birdwatching, now’s the ideal time to venture out and witness the beauty of these amazing creatures.
Top twitching tips:
- A decent pair of bins (that’s the twitcher’s term for binoculars) is essential. For younger birdwatchers, we suggest getting a pair of binoculars that are specifically designed for them. For beginner hobbyists, look for a sturdy, entry-level pair of binoculars with at least 8X magnification.
- Before heading out, research the location you plan to visit and find out what bird species are commonly found there. This will give you a better idea of what to look for and where to find them.
- Patience is a virtue, and birdwatching requires lots of it! Take your time, move slowly, and keep your eyes and ears open for any signs of bird activity. Pick a spot and hunker down.
2. Go on a wildflower walk
As we embrace the arrival of spring, the world around us bursts into a colourful display, with delicate petals blooming into life, painting the world with vibrant hues.
It’s the ideal time to breathe in the sweet scents of blooming flowers and lose yourself in the symphony of the natural world. Flowers can be great fun for little ones too — from discovering who likes butter thanks to the deductive powers of the buttercup, to competing for the winner of the ‘longest daisy chain’.
Top tips for your wildflower walk:
- A guidebook or app can be an excellent resource to help you identify different wildflower species (check out this Wildflower Foray if you’re hoping to keep the kids busy!).
- Why not make a day of it? Pack some tasty treats, along with a picnic blanket and cool bag for some mid-afternoon refreshments (just be sure not to trample any flowers!).
3. Search for bugs
Children love searching for creepy crawlies, and it’s an excellent activity to spark their curiosity about the natural world. It’s also a fantastic way to learn about the diversity of insects and their role in the ecosystem.
Better yet — bugs are everywhere, so it doesn’t matter whether you take a trip out into the countryside, or have a look in your back garden or local park, you’re guaranteed to find all sorts of minibeasts.
Top bug-spotting tips:
- Bring along a magnifying glass or a bug jar to get a closer look at the insects you find. Grab a bug ID guide too, so you can be sure of what you’ve discovered.
- Heat things up a little with some friendly competition – create a bug-spotting checklist and see who can complete it first!
- Be gentle and respectful when handling insects. Bugs can be fragile, so it’s essential to handle them with care to avoid injuring them.
4. Spend a day photographing nature
Capturing the beauty of the natural world through a lens can be a deeply rewarding experience, allowing us to freeze fleeting moments in time and share them with others.
From majestic landscapes to tiny insects, there’s always something new and exciting to photograph in the great outdoors.
Top tips for nature photography:
- Lighting is everything in photography, so aim to shoot during the “golden hour” – the period just after sunrise or just before sunset when the light is soft and warm. This can help create a more flattering and atmospheric image.
- Use a tripod to steady your camera and reduce camera shake, especially if you’re shooting in low light or with a long lens. This can help ensure your images are sharp and in focus.
- Encourage younger photographers by printing their best snaps out once you get home.
5. Create a bird paradise
Creating a bird paradise in your back garden can be a fun and fulfilling activity, providing a safe and welcoming space for local bird species to thrive.
Not only does it bring you closer to nature, but it can also be an excellent opportunity for birdwatching and observing the unique behaviours of different species.
Top tips for building a bird paradise:
- Start by providing a variety of food sources, such as bird feeders, suet, and fruit. Different species prefer different types of food, so it’s essential to offer a variety to attract a diverse range of birds. This birdwatching coffee break gift hamper comes with a great variety of bird feed, and some delicious coffee for you to sip while you wait for their arrival.
- Add birdhouses and bird tables to provide shelter and safe feeding opportunities for your winged visitors.
- Incorporate a water source, such as a bird bath or fountain, to provide drinking and bathing opportunities for birds. It’s essential to keep the water source clean and refreshed regularly to prevent the spread of disease.
6. Build a den
Do you ever daydream about escaping to your own secret hideaway, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Well, we’ve got the perfect solution: build a den!
Whether you’re a kid at heart or a playful adult, creating a den is a fun and creative way to tap into your inner child and let your imagination run wild.
Top tips for building your den:
- Look for a place where you can build your den – think quiet corners of your garden, local parks or woodlands. Just make sure you’re not disturbing any critters or habitats in the process.
- Get creative and gather materials like sticks, leaves, and grass. If you’re feeling fancy, you could even scavenge some fabric or blankets to add some extra pizzazz.
- The beauty of building a den is that it’s a blank canvas for you to decorate however you like. Add some fairy lights, make a bunting line or two, and throw in some cushions or a picnic blanket for good measure. Your imagination is the limit!
7. Get gardening
Pottering about in the garden is a Great British tradition, and it’s not just great for your mental health, either — growing your own fruit and veg means your plates will soon be piled high with delicious, nutritious greens — yum!
Whether you’re blessed with a large garden, a small balcony, or just a windowsill, there are plenty of ways to get started with some family gardening.
Top tips for gardening:
- Planting some wildflower seeds is a great way to get kids excited about gardening. These colourful plants will attract bees and butterflies, which will help pollinate your garden and create a thriving ecosystem.
- Growing your own vegetables isn’t just heaps of fun, it’s also a great way to teach kids about the importance of eating healthy and sustainably-produced food. If you’re new to the hobby, start small with easy-to-grow veggies like cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and carrots.
- Create a bug hotel or leave a small area of your garden untamed to encourage biodiversity.
- Gardening doesn’t have to be a chore! Get the children involved by letting them choose their own gardening tools, creating a bug scavenger hunt, or having a competition to see who can grow the tallest sunflower.
- Once your garden is thriving, take time to enjoy it! Cook up a veggie feast with your homegrown produce, or make a wildflower bouquet to brighten up your home.
8. Take a trip to the seaside
Few things beat a day at the beach, The sound of the waves, the salty sea air, the warm sand between your toes – it’s the perfect recipe for a relaxing and rejuvenating escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and the Easter and spring half-term holidays are the perfect opportunity to take a trip to the seaside.
Soak up some sun, take a bracing dip in the ocean, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll along the shore — a trip to the seaside is always a good idea.
Top tips for a trip to the seaside:
- A sandcastle set can provide hours of fun for the whole family. Besides, what’s more fun than a sandcastle-building competition? The winner gets an ice cream!
- Pack smart. Bring along plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks to keep you hydrated and fuelled throughout the day. Don’t forget towels, beach chairs or blankets, and surf suits for the kids.
- Look out for wildlife – there are countless species found at the beach, so explore rockpools, sand dunes and coastal paths to see what lives there!