Surveys

Surveying trees, photo by Gemma Walker 1/1

Take action in your community

Our countryside and wild spaces - and therefore the plants and animals that are found there - are under increasing pressure. And although we know a great deal about the biodiversity of many of our protected places (such as nature reserves), much less is known about the wildlife and habitats of the vast majority of our landscape.
 
The good news is that much can be done to improve local areas for wildlife - and the perfect place to start is by helping to find out and record what species, habitats and other features can already be found there.
Hedgehog records have shown us that this mammal is declining
A survey of your local wildlife is one of the most worthwhile projects for wildlife that your local community can undertake. The information you can gather can be put to great use to preserve, and even improve, your local environment.
 
You don't need to be an expert naturalist in order to collect useful records or to set up a community project. You will find that many local people already enjoy watching their local wildlife - the birds in their garden, the flowers in their local wood - but the problem is that few people keep a note of these, and even fewer formally submit these records to be added to the information already held about the county's wildlife. And in order to protect what's around us it's vital to know as much as possible about what plants and animals can be found, and how they are faring.
 
Why not see how many people from your community that you can involve in helping to record a picture of your local wildlife? If this isn't possible, it doesn't matter - by sending in your own individual wildlife records you will still be helping to fill in the gaps in Norfolk's natural knowledge.

Wildlife recording made easy: submit your sightings

When recording your local wildlife there are four essential things to remember: what, where, when and who.

What

Perhaps the most important rule is that you have to be certain of the correct identification of a plant or animal that you are going to record. If in doubt, leave it out! However, this doesn't mean that you have to be an expert who can tell apart  a near-identical willow tit from a marsh tit. In fact, recording familiar species such as house sparrows, rabbits or bluebells, is just as valuable as recording ones that are harder to find and identify. Often, more commonplace species do not get recorded at all, which can cause lots of problems down the line if they start to become more scarce; we then find that we have very little data about how abundant they used to be (the decline of the house sparrow is an excellent case in point).

 
If you do find something that you think might be unusual, or you're not quite sure the identity of, make notes about its appearance and behaviour, and anything else that might help someone else to clarify what it is. Even better, try to take a photo! You can send your photos (or questions/notes) to NWT's Wildline and we will do our best to help identify what you have seen.
It’s important to submit records of even common species

Where

Records can be simply linked to a place name, postcode or Parish, but it is even better to give a map/grid reference (there are many good online tools to help you with this) - the more precise you can be about the location the better.
 
If possible give a six-figure Ordnance Survey (OS) grid reference - this will allow your records to be easily added to county and national survey databases.
 
Example
Date: Thursday 14th June 2014, 11.45am
Name: John Smith, 01603 625540
Weather: hot, sunny. Slight breeze.
Species recorded: Painted lady butterfly
Notes: 1 seen.
Location: NWT Roydon Common nature reserve
OS ref: TF 698229
 

When

This should be straightforward - particularly if you remember to make a note of your sighting on the same day! And do remember to include the year as well as the day and month. (Most online recording tools will help you with all of this when you input your records.)

Who

Another easy one, but it adds to the value of the record if sightings can be linked back to the individual who made them.

Make your records count

Submit your sightings online on the Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service (NBIS) website. NBIS collates all the environmental data for Norfolk, providing a vital conservation tool.
It is vital for conservation that we know about local wildlife to keep in touch with how individual species and their habitats are faring. Without local people we simply would not know what wildlife is where and what is special about each place.

Our Wildlife Surveys section will help you keep records of your local wildlife in ways which can help future conservation. Local wildlife needs a helping hand; if we are not aware of what is there it is all too easy to lose precious sites or species without anyone noticing.

Recording wildlife is a vital first step for conservation, but it is also simply great fun, both for individuals and community groups.