What should I record and how often? It is not always clear which species to record and how often. Do you record that Blackbird in your garden every day? What about plants in your garden or street trees nearby? The NatureSpot guidance is:
- 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.
It is vital to know what is happening to our wildlife populations! Repeat recording, especially if numbers are counted, allows assessment of population size and determination of when to expect a species to appear. For instance, the almost nightly recording of adult caddisflies at Graham Calow's garden light trap between April and October each year has provided some very sound evidence of what turns up regularly and has shown the variability of flight period year-on-year for the more numerous species.
Recording a site once a year provides almost no useful information. If, for instance, you recorded butterflies on a cloudy windy cool day in one year how can you compare it with a mild still and clear sunny day the next year! That's why for serious butterfly recording at a site a transect method operating throughout the spring, summer and autumn with weekly monitoring, is used but even here data must be collected over several years to be able to have a true impression of what is going on.
Don't be afraid to do regular monitoring - it may be just your local patch - it's all useful information for assessing species the effects of ever increasing demands on our countryside by urban development and farming, along with climate change.