For us day two of #30DaysWild has been all about citizen science. That is to say the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists. Thanks Google, couldn’t have said it better myself. What this means in practise is reporting your sightings in order to help enrich datasets being collected to back up important research across a wide range of topics. With limited resources it would be impossible for these projects to succeed without public help. Probably the best known example in this country is the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. Running since 1979, first as a children’s activity but opened to all since 2001, half a million people now take part annually collectively submitting millions upon millions of bird sightings. Gathering such a huge and varied dataset would be almost impossible if the RSPB was operating alone but with the public’s help they have been able to accurately map the changing distribution of some of our commonest species. That kind of insight leads directly into conservation efforts, identifying and protecting those in need before it’s too late.
And of course the RSPB aren’t alone. Citizen science is now a well-established means of gathering data and advances in technology have only improved the rate and ease with which it can be collected. No more forms through the post that’s for sure. As we’ll be spending so much of June out in the wild it only seemed sensible to help contribute to a few of these research projects ourselves so a quick search of the app store soon had this little lot residing on my phone.
There’s quite a selection there covering our varied interests and honestly, this is something I should have done a long time ago. Anyone who’s been following this blog for a while will have undoubtedly read my new year resolutions to at the very least submit my bird sightings to our county recorder, something which to date I have singularly failed to do. With time tight the effort spent to collate my own data and submit it always seemed too great but now, thanks to the handy BirdTrack app, I have a chance to do much better.
Here then are the citizen science apps which I’ll be using throughout #30DaysWild:
iRecord Grasshoppers – The first in a series of apps from the Biological Records Centre focussing specifically on grasshoppers. These have always fascinated me and a good few years ago I made a concerted effort to identify many of the species found on nearby Gower. Since then my attentions have wondered so this app offers a chance to refocus. What’s more the data gathered will help inform our current understanding of the rapidly changing distribution of these species, including recent new arrivals.
iRecord Ladybirds – Much like above except this app is all about the Ladybirds. My personal anecdotal evidence is that there are far fewer around than there ever used to be, unless of cause you count the invasive Harlequin which is now cropping up with increasing regularity. I look forward to hunting down a few more of our native species.
iRecord Butterflies – Completing my iRecord trio is this butterfly app. A rapidly developing area of interest for us and this will help no end thanks to its inbuilt photographic identification guide. With the weather warming rapidly I’m hoping to get a good few records submitted on this one.
Project Splatter – Something a little different here in that it aims to map wildlife casualties on our roads in an effort to inform and hopefully decrease their numbers. We’ve all seen roadkill, most of us on a daily basis, so why not put that sad loss to good use.
The Great British Bee Count – Running until the end of June rather handily the Great British Bee Count does exactly what it says on the tin. Promoted by the latest series of Springwatch I’m sure this one will prove very popular.
BirdTrack – Finally, but by no means least, BirdTrack. With birds being my primary focus I should have been submitting records here for years instead of keeping then locked away in my notebooks. There’s no time like the present to right a wrong however so this is my new regular companion when out and about.
With my troops gathered but time tight I grabbed a half hour at lunch today to wander around the office grounds. Sightings were surprisingly varied with the following all making it into the apps: Painted Lady (1), Honey Bee (3), Speckled Wood (1), Blackbird (2), Magpie (1), Jackdaw (6), Goldfinch (1), Tree Bumblebee (1) and Herring Gull (2). I’ll have to make these alfresco lunches more of a regular thing!
Are you taking part in any citizen science projects as part of #30DaysWild?