Hints and tips on watching and recording wildlife
Here are some hints and tips on how to get the most out of wildlife watching...
Having read our previous blog you’ll know just how important it is to keep an eye on the wildlife around you.
Here are a few more suggestions on how to get the most out of wildlife watching:
Do get friends and family involved; the more the merrier! Be careful not to disturb any animals and plants.
Don’t be too invasive or try to catch anything. It’s important to keep your distance so you don't frighten anything away, plus it means you get to observe the animal for longer!
Do count how many individuals of a species you see and where you spot them. Not only is it important for experts to know what type of animal or plant you find, numbers also give experts a more accurate idea of what’s going on. Why not keep a simple recording sheet with you so you can note down anything you see - what was it, how many were there, when did you see it and where you saw it?
Don’t worry if you’re not 100% sure what species of animal or plant you’ve spotted. If you’ve spotted something that isn’t listed on our recording form then try to identify it by typing a more detailed description into Google or using a guide book. Or take a photo and send it to us for our volunteers to identify.
Do try to record wildlife on a regular basis. Knowing what you have in your garden already will help when planning what changes to make. You’ll also notice different animals and plants appearing as the seasons change throughout the year.
Don’t forget to make your garden more wildlife friendly. Just by creating places to hide and providing food that birds, mammals and insects like, you’ll be able to encourage more wildlife in to your garden. We’ve got lots of ideas here on our site and links to other organisations where you might be able to find more information.
Do look out for wildlife signs - you don't have to see the actual animal to know it's there. Look out for other evidence of animals, like footprints and droppings. These are big clues as to what animals are visiting your garden. Other things you can do are listen out for clues as to what wildlife is around you. You may hear a bird call without seeing the bird or find spawn without seeing a frog.
Do remember to be patient when looking out for wildlife, it might take a while for a butterfly or bird to find a spot in your garden where it feels comfortable landing.
Speckled wood butterfly. Photo credit: Steve McWilliam
Do be aware that if you do make changes to your garden or space and are hoping to see new visitors it can take weeks, months or even a year or two before you start getting new inhabitants. Birds and insects that can fly can find a new home quickly, but things that have to walk will take longer.
Do remember that it is just as important to record the more common species you see. There are plenty of experts and professionals carrying out research full time on rare UK wildlife, so in order to get a more realistic idea of numbers we need the common species to be accounted for too.
When is the best time to record wildlife?
All year round. We need to record wildlife continually so we have benchmarks, track changes in behaviours or habitats and spot new trends.Some species are seasonal, like swallows for example, and you might miss them if you only record at one time of year.
What happens to your records?
We work closely with RECORD and Cofnod – our Local Environment Records Centres – which cover Cheshire and North Wales. The information you send in to us will be used to help inform conservationists and other organisations in making accurate decisions for conservation. The more data they have to work with the more informed these decisions can be!