Getting Identification Help

We've all seen a plant or animal and wondered what it was. Some of us even have an overwhelming need to know what species we've seen! If you can't put a name to it, how can you learn more? Hopefully the NatureSpot web site can help you with an identification.

Be aware that not every species can be identified from a photograph - though many can. Many invertebrate species look confusingly similar and some plants are only distinguishable by flower or fruit which only appear at certain times of year. However a good photograph can often enable an identification to be made, if not to species level then to the family group in which it belongs. Our Red/Amber/Green identification ratings aim to give you a guide as to which species can generally be identified from a photo and which need closer examination. See the Identification Difficulty page for more details.

1. Visit the image galleries and species pages

Our Species Library includes images and descriptions of most animals and plants you can find in Leicestershire and Rutland. If you know what type of animal or plant it is, use the menu on the home page to go to the relevant page. If you aren't sure then try the Species Library start page to see representative images for each group. Whilst looking for a visual match works well for most larger species, it isn't always reliable and especially not for invertebrates, fungi and many plants. Our Red/Amber/Green identification difficulty ratings provide a good guide to help you navigate around this issue.

2. Use the NatureChat forum

If you can take a photo - do so! A picture is worth a thousand words. Post a message with your image(s) on our NatureChat forum. If you haven't got a photo it will be more difficult, but you can try describing what you have seen.

3. Use other ID Sources

Click on the Identification & Recording menu link (top of your screen) to find links and references to a wide range of internet sites and publications that offer useful help with identifying species. Check out our ID Resources pages that cover most wildlife groups. If you find any other useful sources, please contact us and let us know. if you you have discovered a rare or unusual species in Leicestershire or Rutland you may want to contact the relevant County Recorder.

A good place to get identification help is the iSpot website where you can post your image and get advice on what it might be from other users. This doesn't guarantee that the ID is correct but it can be a very useful way to get started.