Wildlife Recording

How to record wildlife

14th July - RESCHEDULED Large Heath Butterfly Survey

Catching and identifying the Large Heath Butterfly!

Why record?

Wildlife recording whether it be plants, birds, or butterflies is a fun and enjoyable activity for anyone with an interest in the environment. With your help you can contribute to the conservation of wildlife in your area and really make a difference. Records you submit can be used by many different conservation organisations to find out species populations and locations and provide data which is vital to determine what needs to be done to provide the best possible action for biodiversity.

How do I make a recording?

All you need is a notepad and pencil! When making a recording it is important to get the date, time, habitat, name of recorder, location (if possible give a grid reference) and species. If you can identify the species then great but even then it is always useful to back this up with a photograph or description.

How do I know I’m right?

Once you have these details you can then get them verified by an expert before sending them off.

Below are lists of some local recorders who can help you with identification and/or send off your results for conservation science databases such as the NBN

Look here to see our latest Bioblitz report for RSPB Airds Moss 2015 bioblitz-results-rspb-airds-moss-2015

Local recorders – Ayrshire

Butterflies Jim Black 

MothsGill Smart 

Vascular plantsDave Lang 

Fungi Dick Peebles 

Mosses & liverwortsRory Whytock

BirdsFraser Simpson (assistant recorder Angus Hogg)

Water beetlesGarth Foster 

Beetles Bruce Philp   

Bats Gary Nixon 

Spiders – Dave Beaumont  

Where do you send these records off too?

Until recently, Ayrshire was lacking a records centre. Thankfully now, we have the South West Scotland Environmental Information Centre (SWSEIC).

Formerly known as Dumfries and Galloway Environmental Resources Centre (DGERC), the South West Scotland Environmental Information Centre (SWSEIC) is the local environmental records centre covering Dumfries & Galloway and Ayrshire. The Centre aims to further the appreciation, understanding and protection of the natural environment of SW Scotland by collecting, collating, managing and safeguarding information about the natural environment and providing a focal point through which anyone may access the information. It is hosted by the Southern Uplands Partnership.

The Centre maintains a central database of wildlife and habitat records in Recorder 6 software. The software is a standards-based tool for managing collections of biological data. The Centre also uses ArcGIS and QGIS mapping software to display and analyse this information alongside other geographical datasets, including designated sites, reserve boundaries, habitat datasets and local wildlife sites.

The Centre is hosted by the Southern Uplands Partnership and is based at Kirkgunzeon in Dumfries & Galloway.

SWSEIC is a member of the Association of Local Environmental Records Centres (ALERC).

If there is a Society or Records Scheme (such as the National Moth Recording Scheme or Butterfly Monitoring Scheme – see below for more details) for the organism you have recorded then you can get in touch with them to see if they can process it for you.

If neither of these options are available then you can send your records to i-Record (see details below).

Useful websites:-

National Biodiversity Network (NBN) – for sharing data


In the UK there is an enormous amount of biodiversity information that has been gathered over the years by all sorts of organizations and individuals. The National Biodiversity Network online database can use all this wildlife data once in a standard electronic form and make it easy to access for as many people as possible.

You can access all this information through the NBN Gateway. Individual records, covering plants, mammals, birds and invertebrates, are stored on the NBN Gateway and these can then be displayed on a map of the UK in a number of different ways. http://data.nbn.org.uk/

i-Record for submitting wildlife sightings


The aim of iRecord is to make it easier for wildlife sightings to be collated, checked by experts and made available to support research and decision-making at local and national levels.

You can register quickly and for free and once you’ve registered you can add your own biological records for other to see, and you can see what has been recorded by others. Your data will be kept secure and will be regularly backed up. Automatic checks will be applied to your observations to help spot potential errors, and experts can review your sightings. All wildlife sightings for non-sensitive species are shared with other users and will be made available to National Recording Schemes and Local Record Centres.

i-Spotfor help with identification


i-Spot is a website aimed at helping anyone identify anything in nature.  Once you’ve registered, you can add an observation to the website and suggest an identification yourself or see if anyone else can identify it for you.  You can also help others by adding an identification to an existing observation, which you may like to do as your knowledge grows. Your reputation on the site will grow as people agree with your identifications.

RISC (Recording Invasive Species Counts) for recording non-native species


The aim of RISC is in recording invasive non native species as part of the RISC (Recording Invasive Species Counts) project.

The aim of RISC builds on the success of the Harlequin Ladybird project, which has been very successful, primarily, because of the involvement of the public and volunteers in registering their sightings.  RISC is interested in sightings of 19 invasive non native species.


Other main conservation society’s and charities in the UK with recording as a core activity and useful guidance on their websites :-

www.brisc.org.uk  – Biological Recording in Scotland

This charity encourages and supports wildlife recording in Scotland. Their website provides very useful information on all aspects of wildlife recording.

www.british-dragonflies.org.uk  British Dragonfly Society

A charity committed to recording and conserving dragonflies throughout Britain.

www.southwestscotland-butterflies.org.ukButterfly Conservation

A charity committed to recording and conserving butterflies and moths throughout Britain

www.bto.org British Trust for Ornithology

A charity research institute that aims to use evidence of changes in wildlife populations, especially birds, to inform the public and decision makers. They have a broad range of surveys for volunteers to participate in.

www.plantlife.org.uk/scotland Plantlife Scotland

Based in Stirling this charity carries out conservation and outreach work across the whole of Scotland for wildflowers and plants. They hold many events, surveys and workdays throughout the country.

www.buglife.org.uk Buglife

The only organisation in Europe devoted to conserving invertebrates. Buglife host a number of surveys for specific species

www.mammal.org.uk The Mammal Society

The only organisation devoted to the study and conservation of mammals. They encourage the surveying and monitoring of mammals to identify population changes

www.scottishbadgers.org.uk – Scottish Badgers

Promotes the study, conservation and protection of Scotland’s badgers, their setts and natural

habitats. Strong focus on the survey and recording of setts. Runs training courses

bumblebeeconservation.org  Bumblebee Conservation Trust

A charity dedicated to the conservation of bumblebee’s and their habitats

www.bats.org.uk Bat Conservation Trust

A charity committed to conserving bats in the uk and their habitats

 www.bsbi.org.ukBotanical Society of Britain and Ireland

A society devoted to the study of botany in Britain, Ireland, the Channel Isles and the Isle of Man. It produces national Atlases of the distribution of plants, holds field meetings and can help with the identification of plants.

www.scottishsquirrels.org.ukSaving Scotland’s Red Squirrels

A national Scottish project coordinating action to save the red squirrel. Collects sightings of both red and grey squirrels.

www.ayrshire-birding.org.uk Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (Ayrshire Branch)

A birdwatching club and network of volunteers gathering information about Scotland’s wild birds.

www.tcv.org.uk/display/scotland The Conservation Volunteers, Scotland

A general conservation charity that runs species identification courses that are either cheap or free.

www.bwars.com Bees Wasps and Ants Recording Society

The national society dedicated to studying and recording bees, wasps & ants in Britain & Ireland. It’s website has a page for every species, photo galleries and forums.

www.ukmoths.org.uk an on-line guide to the moths of Great Britain and Ireland

Great for looking up moths you have found