Send us your wildlife sightings

Recording wildlife is an easy way to get involved in wildlife conservation. It is a way of helping us to monitor wildlife across the county to gain an understanding of an animal’s distribution. Your sightings can help us identify areas which are especially important for wildlife and identify species in decline or under threat.

Each season we ask you to help Norfolk's wildlife by sending us your sightings of three iconic species. You don't have to be an expert – all you need to do is tell us when and where you spot them. Use the form to record online, or phone or email us using the details below.

Our current total of wildlife records submitted for this survey are


515
Common frog

24
Orange Tip

145
Swallow

Log your wildlife sightings here...

Sighting locations so far...


Key

Common frog
Orange Tip
Swallow
Spring is a wonderful season, as we welcome back wildlife that has overwintered in warmer climates and see dormant species begin to re-emerge. This season is a time of seeing spring flowers emerging from frosty soils, trees and shrubs burst into life with leaves and blossom, and a time for birds to begin thinking of nesting. We welcome back butterflies to our gardens and spot queen bees feeding and building back their strength in order to begin a new colony for the summer. 

This spring we would love you to share your first sightings of three species we associate with this season: swallow, orange-tip butterfly and the common frog. Whether you are lucky enough to have them visit your garden, or you see them on your local patch, you can help us map sightings within our county so we can build a picture of where they are found.

How to spot a common frog: when this amphibian is first spotted you may be unsure whether you have found a frog or a toad, but there are some very distinctive characteristics which enable you to tell them apart. Frogs have more slender bodies, smooth skin and jump or hop, whereas toads have more bulbous bodies, dry warty skin and tend to crawl. Frogs have longer hind legs with webbed feet which give them the ability to jump long distances and swim extremely well. Common frogs have a distinctive brown patch behind their brick-red eye. Their skin colour may vary from grey, green and yellow to shades of brown. The underside is white or yellow – sometimes orange in the females – covered with brown or orange speckles. Common toads can lighten or darken their skin colour to match their environment. There are also differences between the frog and toad tadpoles. When first hatched the frog tadpole is black but it will soon become faintly speckled with gold, compared with the permanently black tadpole of the toad.

How to spot a swallow: swallows are approximately 20cm in length and have a wingspan of about 30cm. They have glossy blue/black plumage and deeply forked tails. Closer inspection will reveal a red throat and forehead and creamy-buff underparts. Swallows can be differentiated from the house martin by the lack of a white rump and from the swift by the long forked tail. Swallows also tend to feed much closer the ground than other species where it will show its grace and agility in swooping low over meadows and water in search of insect prey.

How to spot an orange-tip butterfly: the male orange-tip is an unmistakable butterfly. It is the only species in the UK to sport bright orange-tips to its white wings. The female orange-tip is not so easy to identify, and closely resembles the other common white butterfly species. It can best be separated when at rest by its green-mottled underside. The butterfly has a wingspan of approximately 45 to 50mm.
Common frog
Despite its name, this species is declining in numbers. Its slender body, smooth skin and long hi...
Orange Tip
The orange tip can be found across Europe and as far east as Japan. It is one of the few butterfl...
Swallow
This migratory bird has a glossy blue/black plumage and a deeply forked tail, and is a common sig...
Recording wildlife is an easy way to get involved in wildlife conservation. It is a way of helping us to monitor wildlife across the county to gain an understanding of an animal’s and plant’s distribution. Your sightings can help us identify areas which are especially important for wildlife and identify species in decline or under threat.
 
This spring NWT is launching a phenology survey, the study of the timing of natural seasonal events. Norfolk is actually the birthplace of phenology: it was the birthplace of Robert Marsham (1708-1797), a Norfolk man who is seen as the Father of Phenology. Between 1736 until his death in 1798 he recorded certain wildlife events (27 indicators of spring) and then his family carried it on – giving us approximately 200 years of valuable information about British wildlife. Phenology was once seen as a relatively unimportant pastime of amateur naturalist, but as a result of climate change it is now seen as an exceptionally important way of considering how our seasons are changing.
 
Common Frog
Frogs usually emerge from their hibernation sites in February and March, where they then set off to their breeding grounds. The mean date for clumps of frogspawn to be seen in Norfolk is 10 March. The appearance of mounds of frogspawn can be a welcome sight, an indicator that spring has truly sprung. Frogs are frequent visitors to garden and do seem to favour small ponds – although records of frogspawn being seen in puddles have occurred. The female will lay between 1,000 and 2,000 eggs at a time and by April, once breeding is complete, adult frogs disperse from ponds to live on land, where they feed on slugs, worms and other invertebrates.

Although still classed as common throughout the UK, it is recognised that the common frog has declined since the 1970s. It is thought that loss of breeding habitat is a major cause for this, but also disease is believed to be a contributing factor.
 
Swallow
Swallows are migratory birds and in the UK they are the typical harbinger of spring; their arrival is eagerly anticipated by everybody with an interest in the natural world.  First arrivals to the UK usually occur around the 20 March, with spring migration taking place from mid-March through to mid-May. The UK swallow population is estimated as something in the region of 705,000 territories, and although they are still widely distributed their numbers saw a decline from the 1800s to 1995. The main reason for this is believed to be deterioration in the quality of feeding habitat in both their breeding and wintering grounds. Another factor is diminishing availability of suitable nesting sites as farms are modernized and other ramshackle buildings are renovated or demolished.
 
According to the RSPB swallow numbers in the UK have fluctuated over the last 30 years with pronounced regional variation in trends. The swallow is classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). They are protected by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
 
Orange-tip Butterfly
The orange tip is widely distributed throughout the UK, although, it is absent from large areas of Scotland. In Norfolk it can be commonly encountered along roadside verges, in woodland glades and in damp meadows where it actively seeks its favoured food plants Lady’s smock (cuckooflower) and garlic mustard (Jack-by-the-hedge). This butterfly also visits established gardens and here it will use a variety of plants for feeding, most notably honesty.

The orange tip is an early spring butterfly with first emerging insects on the wing from mid-April. Adults can be encountered until mid-July. Egg-laying is normally completed by the end of June and caterpillars can be found throughout June and July. The butterfly hibernates over-winter as a chrysalis above ground, attached low down in dense vegetation.

Scientists from the Natural History Museum compared information on historical temperature records to find that 92% of the 51 species of butterfly studied emerged earlier in years with higher spring temperatures. The orange tip butterfly was found to emerge nine days earlier for every 1oC increase in temperature between March and May (Butterflies emerging earlier due to rising temperatures | Natural History Museum (nhm.ac.uk)).

Common Frogs

  • Frogspawn is made up of approximately 99.7% water.
  • A clump of frogspawn can be made up of 2,000 eggs.
  • Frogs can both breathe through their skin and through their lungs.
  • The collective noun for a group of frogs is an army.
  • A female frog can lay up to 4,000 eggs in one spring.
 

Swallow

  • It can take up to 1,200 trips for a pair of swallows to make a nest.
  • On average a swallow will raise two broads of chicks a year.
  • Before we understood bird migration it was thought that swallows overwintered in the mud at the bottom on of ponds and lakes.
  • One study showed that 44% of swallows return to the same nest.
  • On migration swallows will cover approximately 200 miles a day, travelling on average 20mph.
 

Orange-tip

  • The young caterpillars are cannibals, and due to fierce competition for food usually eat any other larva it encounters; because of this usually only one survives per plant. Newly hatch larvae will also eat unhatched eggs for the same reason.
  • When laying eggs the female will give out a pheromone that stops other females from laying eggs on the same plant.
  • Caterpillars overwinter as a chrysalis, emerging as an adult in the following spring.
  • Other names for the orange-tip butterfly include prince of orange and the lady of the woods.
  • The orange-tipped wings seen in the male are believed to be an example of warning colouration. It is thought the bright orange signals that they are not palatable to predators, which may be due to the accumulation of mustard oils from the larva feeding on garlic mustard and hedge mustard.

Download the reports on our previous surveys

   Brown-hare,-barn-owl-and-common-frog-survey-April,-May-and-June-2015 Download   
   Hedgehog,-House-Martin-and-Red-Admiral-Survey-August-2015 Download   
   Water-vole,-grass-snake-and-Himalayan-balsam-survey-July-2015 Download   
Show more +
Have you seen any other wildlife recently? We would love to hear about it... Notify us now

How to take part in this wildlife survey...

Online


The quickest way to take part is by clicking on the submit button below. You will then be asked: what you saw, when you saw it, where you saw it and who you are.

By phone


Phone Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife Information Service on 01603 598333. Don’t forget you will need to tell us: what you saw, when you saw it, where you saw it and who you are.

By e-mail


Send us an email to wild@norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk. Don’t forget you will need to tell us: what you saw, when you saw it, where you saw it and who you are.

Take part today...