5 June 2020 Where do those scary wildlife stats come from?
I asked Andrew Graham what brought him to set up his moth trap, which has given us the photos of those beautiful creatures. In response, Andrew says:
So much of what we know about our wildlife relies upon volunteers recording what they see in their gardens and local area. Combined with the sightings of numerous other recorders across the country, this gives scientists data with which to assess which species are declining or increasing in number. It will also show up how species respond to weather - for example a hot summer, or an especially cold or wet winter - as well as long-term trends like climate or land use change. I have been doing weekly counts of birds in my garden for several years now, and undertake butterfly recording at Tuckingmill and elsewhere in south west Wiltshire. It was natural to extend this to moths, although I could recognise relatively few of the day-flying ones.
Just before lockdown, I saw that Butterfly Conservation, the wildlife charity that promotes the conservation of butterflies and moths, was promoting a relatively cheap and simple moth trap. Even better, they benefited through a donation from the vendor for each trap sold. I bought one and have been using it on appropriate nights since. The bright light attracts the moths which hide in the box below it, sheltering beneath the egg boxes placed there until I come to open it in the morning. I only do it every few nights as it gives the moths a chance to feed and mate, and I go out and check the trap early in the morning so they are trapped for as short a time as possible.
Very few were attracted to the light earlier in spring but as the nights have become a bit warmer there have been good numbers for me to sort through with my identification guides. I photograph them as that gives me the chance to really examine the markings and compare them with the guidebook without distressing the insect which can be released. There is a useful Wiltshire Butterflies and Moths Facebook group where people with much more expertise can give advice and help with identification. It's great to see and hear what people elsewhere are seeing, to get a picture of how the season is developing across the county and whether what we are seeing in and around Tisbury is representative of what is going on elsewhere.
What - where - how - why to report mammals - flowers - funghi - amphibians - birds - reptiles
One of the most important things people who love wildlife in all its glorious variety can do is help people who look after it professionally by telling them what we see - or of course, don't see. Our aim is to develop this page so that you can easily find the appropriate route for you.
Please do get in touch with any queries you may have: you may not get an instant response, but we'll do our best just as soon as we can.
Bear in mind wise counsel from Gareth Harris, the County Recorder for mammals and bats in Wiltshire: 'Recording wildlife has become frustratingly complex now, so for most enthusiasts iRecord (see below) will more than suffice……and as you learn more, you start asking more questions and you realise more of the issues and how other systems may be better for some groups…….'
Bats and other mammals
The joint Wiltshire Mammals and Bats Group shares it’s data with Wiltshire & Swindon Biological Records Centre (WSBRC) so it is therefore important that records are submitted only once, whether to WMG or WBG or to one of the routes mentioned below – this will ensure that records are not duplicated. Just decide which one suits you best.
Gareth receives mammal and bat records from all of the following sources and assesses and verifies them to ensure all records are accurate and of high standard. He is always interested in offers of access to record new roosts of bats, particularly if you know of roosting sites of horseshoe bats.
Records should comprise the species name, the date of observation, location name or address, national grid reference (use https://gridreferencefinder.com/ to generate grid refs), the number of individuals noted, observer’s name. Please include details of fieldsigns seen, age/sex of individuals noted and any other useful information.
Gareth would be pleased to receive records and information via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. He can supply a template recording in excel for multiple records - just email to request this.
Other reporting channels
Living Record 'makes it quick and easy for you to record the wildlife that you see. It provides you with your own records system and access to a selection of distribution maps. Records are reviewed and passed on to local record centres and to organisations working for conservation. Your records form part of the big picture which is used nationally and locally to understand species distribution and population trends, to identify key sites and to develop conservation plans.'
iRecord 'A site for managing and sharing wildlife records. The goal of iRecord is to make it easier for wildlife sightings to be collated, checked by experts and made available to support research and decision-making at local and national levels.'
MammalMapper A smartphone app that can be downloaded free of charge from the relevant stores. 'Most wild mammals, including rabbits and iconic species like hedgehogs and mountain hares, are very poorly monitored. The Mammal Mapper is designed to record information on the location and number of animals spotted on walks or bicycle rides.'