IT’S THAT time of year when shops and businesses around the UK are counting their stock and the RSPB will be doing the same, but with a twist.

For the second year running, they’ll be carrying out a wildlife stocktake over the Easter weekend at reserves at Radipole Lake in Weymouth and Arne near Wareham and they’re asking the public to step up for nature and join in.

They’re inviting people to visit these very different reserves to discover what kind of amazing wildlife lives and thrives there.

The RSPB’s Rob Farrington said: “These reserves are some of the most bio-diverse sites in Britain. What better way to spend Easter than having a lovely family walk with wildlife all around you, whether on the heathlands of Arne or the reedbeds of Radipole in the middle of Weymouth or both.”

You don’t need to be an expert to join in. Roving volunteer wardens will be on hand throughout the day; there’ll be reptile ‘show and tells’ at both sites and identification books are available for hire.

Head out for a walk with the RSPB’s Big Wild Stocktake booklet and see what species you can spot, whether they’re plants, mammals, birds or creepy crawlies.

Last year, around 100 people joined in at the Radipole Lake event alone and between them, identified more than 120 different species.

Weymouth Wetlands information officer Luke Phillips said: “It was an incredibly useful event for us, giving us a snapshot of what was around on the reserve at the time and, almost as importantly, what wasn’t. It showed us which birds had arrived safely from their wintering grounds in Africa, which plants were in flower and which insects were already emerging.

“People’s sightings this year will enable us to compare species and numbers and help us find out what’s going on with summer visitors as well as our resident wildlife.”

He added: “Above all, everyone really enjoyed themselves last year, with lots of people of all ages and levels of interest and knowledge joining in.”

So get yourself and your family out to these amazing RSPB nature reserves and join in the Big Wild Stocktake Challenge, at Arne on Saturday, April 7 or at Radipole Lake on Sunday, April 8 or both. Whether you’re a beginner or consider yourself to be a budding Chris Packham, the Big Wild Stocktake caters for all.

And everyone who takes part will be added to a draw and could win a trip on a Dorset bird boat.

You can find out more about what’s going on at Weymouth Wetlands and at Arne by following their blogs at /weymouthwetlandsblog and