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The NatureSpot team is here to help you every step of the way. Let’s look at how you too could become a nature recorder.
The NatureSpot website has a guide to some of the best Nature-spotting locations in our two counties, any of these would be a great place to start your nature recording. But if you prefer you can start right outside your back door. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden this is a great place to record nature – it’s so easy to get to! Jennifer Owen observed the wildlife of her Leicester garden for over 30 years and ended up seeing a total of over 2,600 species, some of them new to the UK!
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s try and make our first observation... So step out into your garden, or a local park, or nature reserve and open your eyes (and ears!) to the wonders of nature. Anything living is a potential record; it doesn’t have to be a rare orchid or an obscure wasp with a Latin name only an expert could pronounce. A Robin, a ladybird or a Daisy will do just as well.
If you have a digital camera or camera phone make sure you have the batteries charged and are ready to shoot. This will make the stages 2 and 3 so much easier.
OK, you’ve seen something, and hopefully got a picture of it too. Now what?
Do you already know its name? Most people can identify a Robin when they see one. If you do know what you’ve seen then all well and good, you can move on to making a record. But what if you don’t know its name, or you know it’s a beetle but aren’t quite sure which one?
That’s where the NatureSpot site can help you again. It contains a library of over 4,500 species, all seen in Leicestershire and Rutland and photographed by local people just like you. The fact that the library contains only local species means that you won’t have to waste time looking at species found only in Cornwall or Scotland as you would have to with a book. The library is divided into sections to narrow down your search so if you photographed a butterfly you don’t know you can go straight to the butterflies page and see if you can see it.
Picture-matching is frowned on by some experts, and it’s true that some species simply cannot be identified from a photograph alone, but many can. And picture-matching is where everyone starts, even the experts. Our handy traffic-light system will tell you how hard it is to identify the species from a photo (Green – easy, Amber – caution needed, Red – hard or impossible). So take a look through the gallery section where you think your find might be and see if you can spot something that looks similar. If you do, then click on the photo and it will take you to the detailed species page where a description will give you extra information that can help you decide if it is indeed what you saw. Things like the particular physical features to look out for, the type of habitat it is normally found in, and the time of year it is normally seen.
Found it? Good, move on to making a record. But what if you can’t find it in the library, or you’re not sure between a couple of species? Well, there are several options now.
You’ve seen something, and now you’ve put a name to it. All that’s left to do is to tell us about it. See this page for an illustrated guide about how to submit a record to NatureSpot. It might seem a little daunting to have six steps to complete but if you give it a go you’ll find it’s really not that hard. There’s even a short youTube video to explain the process. And the process is explained in more detail here.
Once your record has been submitted it will be checked by the NatureSpot team and verified as correct. You will receive an email to let you know when this has happened (it can take a few days so please be patient).
Once your record has been verified you will be able to go to the map on the species page and zoom into the location of your record and see a red dot. Congratulations, you’ve just become a nature recorder! That’s your record on the map, adding to our knowledge about the wildlife of Leicestershire and Rutland. If you submitted a particularly good photo with your record it might even be used on the species page.
Well, it wasn’t too hard to become a nature recorder was it? We hope you’ll have enjoyed the process and want to repeat it. Go to the same place again and see if you spot anything different. Try a new location. Or a different time of year. How much you want to record is totally up to you. Some of our keenest recorders submit dozens of records every week in the summer, others just a handful across the year. Whatever you decide we’d love to keep receiving your records, every single one is important.
All your records and images are safely stored and you can access them at any time to see what you have recorded so far.
Do you know someone else who is interested in nature? Tell them about NatureSpot and how easy it is to start recording.