Bioblitz Blog: Making Your Wildlife Watching Count
Ever wondered how your records can make a difference? Peter Norman, Project Officer for South West Scotland Environmental Information Centre, explains how to go about wildlife recording and where your records go.
I guess that if you are reading this, you share my fascination and enjoyment in watching wildlife? But did you know that your wildlife watching, whether it relates to common birds in your garden, bees in your local park, or a detailed survey of wildflowers in a nature reserve, can also play a vital role in the conservation of these species?
Our job at South West Scotland Environmental Information Centre (SWSEIC) is to collect, collate and make available wildlife records relating to Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway. We now have well over two million of them, and they are increasingly being used to inform decision-making. That includes major developments such as new roads or windfarms, but also local projects such as tree management or bridge repairs. And the data also gets used for many other things, including assessment of wildlife population trends, academic research projects, local community information boards, and school projects. We make a charge for processing commercial enquiries, but if you think we might be able to help with a local community project, get in touch as we can often provide the information for free.
To make a good wildlife record, one that can be used for the sort of things mentioned above, just remember the four Ws – What? Where? When? Who?
‘What’ does not have to be a full species name – just be honest if you are not sure. ‘Where’ needs to be an identifiable place name, ideally with a map reference. ‘When’ is a date, but not necessarily a precise day if you can only remember the month that you saw something, sometimes even just the year is sufficient. ‘Who’ is the name of the person who saw the wildlife or identified it (not necessarily the same), but real names, not internet user names, are required. Contact details are also useful, just in case we have any queries. To protect your privacy, and sometimes to protect wildlife, personal details and some other data will be kept confidential.
Using iRecord to submit your widlife records
In the past, people would send us their records on a piece of paper through the post. We are still very happy to receive records like this, but increasingly records come on spreadsheets via email, or through one of the online recording systems such as iRecord, which you can also use via an app on your phone. This has the advantage of helping you with the four Ws and automatically sharing your records with all the organisations that need them, as well as with other wildlife watchers.
We have set up a special section within iRecord where you can see all the records that relate to the Garnock Connections area. This currently has more than 7600 records relating to the species groups shown on the pie chart below, and covering the area shown on the map. But we could always do with more!
Peter is Project Officer at SWSEIC and helps us collate all our wildlife records.
He can be found @swseic on Facebook and twitter.