Recording the animals and plants in our surrounding environment is very important. It gives scientists an insight into the number and type of species and how it changes overtime, which helps conservation. Locally our Islay Natural History Trust (INHT) and RSPB record sightings of wildlife. For instance, the INHT has a large database with sightings of birds, plants, insects and other species. Malcolm Ogilvie can tell you all about it. The RSPB also records wildlife and focusses mainly on birds such as geese, corncrakes, chough, hen harriers and others for conservation purposes.
Nationally there are a few more organisations who are involved with recording sightings from the public for science such as the National Biodiversity Network, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the British Trust for Ornithology, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust and quite a few more if you do a search on Google.
If you want to share your sightings with local or national organisations you need a description of the species, the date and time, preferably a good photo and of course the location of your sighting which you can then upload onto their websites or send them in by email. Some of them also provide an app to make it easier. Continue reading..
And what about Identification?
Now here comes the fun part. If you are out and about at home, wherever you live in the world, and you want to record the wildlife such as plants, insects, birds etc. and also want to identify them and get some background information you would ideally need a good guide, or several guides. But you don't want to carry around field guides and books in your backpack right? It can be a lot easier if you already have a smartphone and who doesn't nowadays?
From now on all you need is one app on your smartphone. It is called iNaturalist. This app identifies plants and animals around you wherever you are and records them at the same time. So if for instance you see a plant you don't know, or know but want to know more about, just take a photo and the app will tell you the name (or suggestions if not clear), in which part of the world it can be found and it provides background information. The app also records your findings and shares it within the iNaturalist community and it will create a personal overview of all your sightings made with the app. It's a fantastic tool and a fun way to discover nature and to share it with others. It requires an internet connection for identification but also records offline so you can upload whenever the internet connection is back. And when you are using the app or desktop version you can easily find out about sightings nearby.
For more information on iNaturalist have a look at www.inaturalist.org where you can create an account and find links to the apps for Android and Apple.