How to get into wildlife recording

How to get into wildlife recording

Wildlife recording can take place at any time of day or night and is a great way to appreciate nature around you. Nature is everywhere and taking notice can help with our mental wellbeing. We asked our local wildlife recorders what top tip they would give to someone starting their journey of wildlife recording for the New Year. 

1. Start off simple. Choose a species that is easy to spot, doesn’t run away too quickly and can be found in lots of different habitats. This will increase your chances of seeing it and it will help you maintain enthusiasm in the first few months. 

Example species: Rabbits, Moles, English Oak or Red Campion.

2. Record something that excites you. This makes it more enjoyable and give you motivation to get out and search for the species. Focus on a few things you are interested in so you can gain more confidence with the identification features over time.

3. Research your species of choice. Check what key identification points you need to look out for. Start with a species that can be identified by visual features rather than needing a microscope.  You willl also need to research when the species is most likely to been seen and where you need to be looking to get the best chance of success.

4. Take photos if you can. This can help with identification if you are unsure. You can then share these photos on Facebook groups such as Jersey Wildlife for help with identification. Find inspiration from other people’s photos or videos, look for something you’ve seen on SpringWatch, Facebook, magazines or from a friend telling you about their wildlife watching experiences.

5. Join a group, club or survey scheme. A great way to start is to join a project such as Pond Watch, The Pollinator Project, or the botany or animal groups of the Société Jersiaise. Feeling part of a group can make all the difference so there are people to turn to when you need help and advice about surveying and identification. It also is a great way to meet like-minded people who you can buddy up with for surveys and walks.  

6. Get out as often as possible. Go and find a quiet spot, sit, watch and listen. You’ll need some basic equipment to get started; a phone or notepad and pen. Use your phone to record what you’ve seen using the iRecord app, if you prefer paper and pen use this to record the species, location and date. A camera is useful to snap a shot if you can to help with identification.

If you want to learn more about wildlife recording in the Channel Islands, please visit:  Happy Wildlife Spotting from the Jersey Biodiversity Centre.

Photo: Gregory Guida

Written for the Bailiwick Express December 2020. 

jersey west
Sarah Maguire