Today for 30 Days Wild I'm looking at recording wildlife.
When you're out in nature it's really important to enjoy what you see and on one level perhaps it doesn't matter what species it is as long as you appreciate it's beauty or interest value. On the other hand, we can't begin
to conserve our wildlife unless we know what we have, where it is, and how scarce
or common it is. So therefore it's important to try to learn to identify species and to record where and when you see them to help conservation efforts.
It's also an interesting challenge to find out what a species is. I'm naturally curious and always enjoy this challenge, though there are times when I know I'll never identify the species!
Some groups of plants and animals are quite tricky and take practice and in some cases specialised training to really get to know them at all.
I recently became very interested in hoverflies but quickly realised that with the exception of a few obvious species I'm unlikely to ever learn many of them. On the other hand, I'm quite quickly getting to know more bee species (though the two most common species buff tailed and white tailed bumble bees seem more or less identical to me).
I've long found speedwells and some of the vetches to be two groups of plants that are fairly tricky but that with practice I should be able to sort them out (though it's not helped by the fact that I've seen the same common name used for different species in different publications!)
So which are the most useful places to send your records?
Your local record centre in Scotland wants your records from the area they cover. If you live in the Lothians or Boders then your local record centre is The Wildlife Information Centre. As well as wanting general wildlife records they run occasional surveys, currently they're interested in records of buzzards, red kites or kestrels in Lothians and Borders.
If you're a birdwatcher in the UK, Birdtrack is the British Trust for Ornithology's big recording scheme.
Scottish Wildlife Trust wants to know which species of wildlife you have seen on its reserves.
The Water of Leith Conservation Trust are interested to know what species are seen along the river.
The Woodland Trust operates Nature's Calendar which encourages people to note down the dates for key wildlife happenings that show seasonal change.
You may also be interested in:
Identification, Please an article on the joys of field guides and identifying nature by Helen MacDonald writing in the New York Times.