Jun 04 2019

You don’t need a laboratory to become a Citizen Scientist!

Common lizard at Chobham Common

Common lizard at Chobham Common

It’s been a little while since my series on our wonderful British reptiles. Since then temperatures have warmed up and the number of snakes and lizards scurrying around on the heaths has risen too! On some days you can’t walk more than a few metres without something rustling in the heather! The butterflies are emerging too, the dragonflies are popping out of ponds, and what’s that churring noise? Ah yes, the nightjars are back! There’s so much to enjoy at this time of year, and you can help protect and increase our knowledge of heathland by becoming a Citizen Scientist. It’s dead easy!

Whether you are walking across the countryside, visiting a local greenspace, commuting to work or even enjoying a BBQ in the garden, there are a number of ways to get involved with research and conservation. And in the modern era, you can do it with just a few taps on a smart phone, tablet or computer! Gathering records on where animals and plants are can help inform conservation management planning, identify areas with rare species, and contribute to massive long term datasets.

Cockchafer beetle at Wildmoor Heath

There are some fantastic examples of the value of citizen science, including the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch and the previously mentioned Make the Adder Count project. And now there are free downloadable apps that allow you to record the fauna and flora you see, and many come with guides to help identify species, including:

  • iRecord (my personal favourite app for recording wildlife)
  • iNaturalist
  • iRecord Butterflies
  • iRecord Grasshoppers

iRecord and iNaturalist can also be accessed through a web browser. For reptiles and amphibians, recordpool is a fantastic resource for recording your herpetological sightings, and whilst you are at it, why not consider joining one of your local Amphibian & Reptile Groups!

Interested in getting even more involved this summer? After the success of last year, we’re running Heath Week 2019 and 2019 is also the Year of Green Action, so check out our pages to keep up to date with upcoming events across the Thames Basin!

Warden Jamie

More on citizen science…

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