Frequently Asked Questions

    1. Wildlife Recording

    1.1 Where can I get help on using the Submit Records form?

    1.2 My species isn't listed on the Submit Records species menu, what do I do?

    1.3 I don't live in Leicestershire or Rutland, do you still want my records?

    1.4 The Submit Records form doesn't accept my entries, what do I do?

    1.5 What happens to my records after I've submitted them?

    1.6 Can I edit my records after submission?

    1.7 What should I record and how often?

    2. Registration

    2.1 I'm having problems getting registered, what should I do?

    3. Identification help

    3.1 Where can I get help identifying my species?

    4. Images

    4.1 Do I need to attach an image to my record?

    4.2 Do I keep the copyright?

    4.3 Does it matter how large the image is?

    4.4 What shape should my image be?

    4.5 Are there any types of image that shouldn't be submitted?

    4.6 Can I offer images to add to your species galleries?

    4.7 Why isn't my image showing on the species page?

    5. Maps

    5.1 Where does the data come from on the species page maps?

    5.2 Why are there few records in Leicestershire and Rutland even for common species?

    5.3 Why are Leicestershire and Rutland grouped together?

    6. Wild Places

    6.1 What are the areas featured as 'Wild Places' on NatureSpot?

    6.2 Can I suggest other Wild places?

    7. Keeping track of my records

    7.1 Where can I find a list of my records?

    7.2 Can I be kept informed about the verification of my records?

    7.3 What do the verification ticks and crosses mean?

    1.1 Where can I get help on using the Submit Records form?

    Use our illustrated guide to using the Submit Records form.

    1.2 My species isn't listed on the Submit Records species menu, what do I do?

    The species list only includes those that has been recorded previously on NatureSpot. Additional species are being found all the time so the list is steadily expanding. If you have found a species that isn’t on the list, type '+' and then select '+ new species' from the drop down menu on the species box. You will then be shown a pop up box and asked to tell us what species you think it is and what evidence you have. For a new species to be accepted you will either need to send photographic evidence or a recognised expert must have identified it for you. We only add new species that have been identified with 100% certainty. Only add one new species at a time. Use another form if you have a second new species.

    1.3 I don't live in Leicestershire or Rutland, do you still want my records?

    The NatureSpot website only collects records for Leicestershire and Rutland. However the recording site iRecord welcomes records from all areas of the UK.

    1.4 The Submit Records form doesn't accept my entries, what do I do?

    The most common reason for experiencing difficulty with the Records form is that you haven't selected the species from the drop down menu. You mustn't type it into the species box and instead must select it from the menu. As you start typing, a list of possibilities will appear in the drop down list - always click on the relevant entry on this menu.

    If you left the form partly completed then returned to it after a break it is possible it timed-out. Try pressing the F5 button on your keyboard to refresh the form.

    1.5 What happens to my records after I have submitted them?

    All submitted records are checked by our team of verifiers, particularly to make sure the identification is correct. If a species has been recorded that is unusual or rare we may contact the user for more information. This checking of the records is obviously easier if an image of the species seen is submitted with the record and for more difficult species an image and/or additional information is required (as stated in the 'Recording Advice'. For certain species, we will contact the County Recorder, or another expert, for their opinion. All correct and accepted records are submitted to the Leicestershire and Rutland Environmental Records Centre run by the County Council. We also make records available to the County Recorders (experts who monitor a wildlife group such as beetles) and ultimately the records are submitted to the NBN Atlas - the national repository for UK wildlife records. We may also send records to the relevant land owner or manager. All this ensures your records add to the scientific knowledge base of UK species and draws to the attention of land managers the wildlife interest of their sites so appropriate protection and conservation management can be put in place.

    1.6 Can I edit my records after submission?

    Yes - see editing my records.

    1.7 What should I record and how often?

    It is not always clear which species to record and how often. Do you record the Blackbird in your garden every day? What about plants in your garden or street trees nearby? Guidance from the BSBI (Botanical Society of the British Isles) has recently been published which helps to give some answers to these questions regarding plants, but most of the pointers can apply to other types of wildlife. You can view the full guidance here: BSBI guidance on what and where to record, but we have summarised the main points below.

    • Do record common species, not just the notable ones you see
    • In general it is sufficient to record the species found on a particular site just once each year
    • You don't need to have 'discovered' the species to record it - if you saw it then record it!
    • Only record plants in gardens that have arrived there naturally and are growing 'wild'
    • Plants outside a garden boundary that have 'escaped' or naturalised can be recorded
    • Ignore wildflower strips and other seeded meadows - apart from 'weeds' that have colonised naturally
    • You can record street and parkland trees but add a note with the record if you think it has been planted

    2.1 I'm having problems getting registered, what should I do?

    The most common problem is that the registration email doesn't arrive. This is nearly always because it is getting sent to the junk/spam folder by your email programme. Some email providers, such as BTYahoo filter out what they think are spam before they get to your computer and you have to log onto your online email account to find these. One way around this is to add site@naturespot.org.uk to your address book before the registration email is sent and this should allow it to get through. If you are still having any difficulty, email info@naturespot.org.uk

    3.1 Where can I get help identifying my species?

    Read our help page on Getting Identification Help.

    4.1 Do I need to attach an image to my record?

    It is usually preferred if an image is submitted with your record - it is easier for our verifiers to be sure of the species ID. Species with a green ID rating don't require an image so for these it is optional. However species that are amber or red rated should have an image - unless your specimen was identified for you by a known expert who's expertise we can trust.

    Your images don't have to be of an award-winning standard! Any image that allows the species to be recognised is welcome. Note that for some species, the key features may not be visible in a general photo and here it is necessary to have an image of the right 'part' or at the right angle. You can submit up to four images of each record so take photos from different angle or of different parts of the plant or specimen if you are not sure exactly what is required. The recording advice guidance for each species provides more specific guidance on what is required (note that it will take time to add this guidance for all species - but we are on the case!)

    4.2 Do I keep the copyright?

    Yes! By submitting your image to NatureSpot you just agree to grant NatureSpot a license to use your image for educational purposes. See Terms for more details.

    4.3 Does it matter how large the image is?

    Usually no - your image will be automatically resized when you upload it so we only keep a low resolution copy. There is a 10MB limit however on submitted images.

    4.4 What shape should my image be?

    The standard 6x4 or 7x5 shape is fine. However if you crop your image try to avoid long, thin images as these don't display very well. Unless you have a particular composition that you want to retain, it is best to crop the image so that the subject is centred and large within the frame. If you have a lot of background with a small subject, it won't be very clear when displayed as a small thumbnail on the web site.

    4.5 Are there any types of image that shouldn't be submitted?

    Most bird nests are protected by the Wildlife & Country Act 1981 - some (Schedule 1 species) are protected by special penalties.  Photographing an active nest is deemed to be disturbance under the Act without the appropriate licence.  Not all species require a licence but all are covered by "recklessly disturbing" - it is a grey area with respect to common species but if the act of photographing a nest caused the birds to desert then an offence would have been committed. For this reason we do not normally publish images of nests containing eggs or live young.

    Whilst it is common to find dead animals (such as road kill) and photos of these do provide good evidence, in some cases we may choose not to publish an image if it is likely to cause offense or upset. The image will however be retained with the record as evidence so do submit these.

    4.6 Can I offer images to add to your species galleries?

    All the images used in our galleries and on the species pages have been submitted with records. Therefore all have been taken in Leicestershire and Rutland (VC55). We very much welcome good images that can better illustrate species in these galleries but these have to be submitted with a genuine VC55 record.

    4.7 Why isn't my image showing on the species page?

    The images selected are generally the best of those submitted for that species, however with hundreds of new images added every day we cannot always keep up with this selection. We try to include a few images for each species and particularly like to have images of males, females, juveniles, colour variants and other relevant life stages to illustrate the different forms that may be encountered. We also aim to display images that illustrate the key ID features so would welcome contributions that show these.

    If you think one or more of your images deserves to be displayed then do let us know - it may well be because we haven't visited that species page for as while. Some regular recorders have volunteered to help with image selection so if you think you would like to get involved with this then get in touch: info@naturespot.org.uk

    5.1 Where does the data come from on the species page maps?

    The distribution maps we use on this site combine NatureSpot records collected on this web site with those submitted to the National Biodiversity Network. The NBN Atlas is an innovative website that serves as a warehouse for biodiversity records. Data is submitted to the NBN by hundreds of local and national recording centres, allowing an overall picture of a species' distribution to be mapped.

    Each species page has both a Leicestershire and Rutland distribution map, with NatureSpot records in red and NBN records as green squares. The UK map only includes NBN data.

    As soon as you submit a record to NatureSpot, a new 'dot' appears on the map.

    Most NatureSpot records have a 6 or even 8 number grid reference - equating to a 100m or 10m square. When the map is large, these very small squares wouldn't show up so they are displayed as a larger dot. If you zoom in, the actual size of the square becomes more apparent. The NBN data however is displayed as larger squares so we can't say exactly where the species was seen - just that it was found somewhere within that square.

    5.2 Why are there few records in Leicestershire and Rutland even for common species?

    There are several reasons:

    • NBN is relatively new and not all collected records have yet been submitted. This is improving over time.
    • some recorders submit data to NBN with restricted visibility, so these records may not appear in our 2km squares.
    • other than for birds, there are relatively few people collecting records
    • many of the smaller groups of animals are hard to identify so get ignored
    • common species are so familiar they are also often ignored by wildlife recorders

    5.3 Why are Leicestershire and Rutland grouped together?

    County boundaries are often changed to fit political ideas. Rutland has in the past been a part of Leicestershire, even though it is a separate county now. To avoid confusion and to provide consistency, all biological recording in this country adopts fixed boundaries based on the old Watsonian Vice Counties. In this system, Leicestershire and Rutland are treated as one area called Vice-County 55 (VC55).

    6.1 What are the areas featured as 'Wild Places' on NatureSpot?

    Our Wild Places section describes some of the best places in Leicestershire and Rutland (VC55) to see wildlife. We particularly like to feature sites that have had records and images submitted to NatureSpot through our Submit Records form so that we can illustrate the type of species that can be found there.

    As a general rule we only feature sites that have public access and have prioritised those places that are managed with biodiversity in mind.

    The species lists and image gallery for each Wild Place page are drawn from those submitted on our records form. This is done by matching up the grid reference of the record with the map we have drawn of site. Only records with a 6 figure grid reference are included, representing a 100 metre square, and part of this square must overlap the site boundary. Whilst this may mean that a few records included in the species lists may have been seen outside the site boundary, they are within 100 metres which we believe is reasonable.

    6.2 Can I suggest other Wild places?

    Yes! If you know of a good wildlife spot that we've missed out then get in touch and we will try to add it. It should have public access (at least a public footpath across the site or along a boundary). We may need help in identifying the site's boundaries so if you can help provide this information it would be appreciated. Many Wild Place pages are edited by one of our contributors so if you would like to get involved with this then please let us know.

    7.1 Where can I find a list of my records?

    Once you have submitted records or images to NatureSpot you can review these on the My Records and My Images pages. When you first open these pages, they will display all your records or images but you can then easily filter these to review a more specific list.

    • Taxonomic Group - select the category to look at just records/images from one species type, eg. birds or butterflies
    • Site Name - the filter will recognise part of a site name, eg. 'garden', to display your records from just one site
    • Date From and Date To - this will display records/images within the date range selected

    As well as the filters, you can organise your list alphabetically, or in date order, by clicking on any of the column headings. The first click will order them A-Z, then a further click will reverse the order.

    Use the 'next' link at the bottom of the page to see the next batch of records in your list. After the first page, a 'previous' link will also appear so you can navigate backwards.

    If you want to download your own copy of the list, click on Download Report and follow the instructions.

    You can also view your records from the Explore All Records page. Once loaded, use the drop down filter at the top to select 'My Records'. You can also use the map on this page to see where and what you have recorded across the county. Zoom in to get more detail and use the '?' tool to select any square that you want to view the records for.

    7.2 Can I be kept informed about the verification of my records?

    There are several options for you to opt into receiving email notifications about the verification of your records - see notifications.

    7.3 What do the verification ticks and crosses mean?

    Every record is checked by a verifier to ensure the species identification is correct. See verification explained.

     

    We welcome suggestions of other questions we should add to this page - email info@naturespot.org.uk.