TIPS
 

  • When we say record "wild" plants and animals, we mean anything that has arrived in your garden of its own accord (not planted or brought into the garden by you, your family or your predecessors).
     
  • Make sure bird feeders are topped up with a variety of different foods in order to attract different species of birds.
     
  • You can survey for as long as you like in the 24 hour period, so it is best to go out at different times to take advantage of different conditions - for example you are most likely to see moths and molluscs at night .
     
  • Look under leaves, paving slabs, stones and in any nooks and crannies for invertebrates you may have missed.
     
  • You can gently tap flowers and foliage with your hand to dislodge small insects onto a white sheet of paper ­ amazing numbers of species will be  hiding!
     
  • With regards to plants you will be amazed how many species have moved in to your lawn - other than daises and dandelions, there are likely to be several more cryptic species such as plantains and Black Medick. These can be identified by their leaves.
     
  • Look out for galls, these are abnormal growths on plants (eg oak apples or the  robin’s pin-cushion) and are caused by mites,  insects or fungi.  Most can be identified by the shape and colour of the gall - if you see a weird-looking feature on a plant it is worth recording just in case!
     
  • Why not try worm charming? There are likely to be several species of worm in your garden ­ try enticing them up to see how many live under your feet!
     
  • Log piles are very diverse habitats -  if you have a log pile or something similar don’t forget to check there!
     
  • Leave a light on overnight to see what moths you can attract, remember though that some moths (like butterflies) are  attracted to fragrant flowers instead of light ­ a torch-lit walk round the garden could turn up several new species!
     
  • Don’t forget to check the shed for insects and spiders tucked into the corners
     
  • If you have a pond, there’s a whole world of other creatures to be found -  try pond-dipping and see what you can find!
     

General Advice

  • It doesn’t matter if you can’t identify something - we’re here to help! There’s a whole community of scientists and naturalists on the internet who enjoy helping others identify wildlife ­ check out the links on the How to take part page.
     
  • When photographing insects it is helpful to get as many angles as possible to aid identification ­ the crucial features of different species are in different places.
     
  • You may only get a quick glimpse of something like a hoverfly when it lands on a plant so try getting a picture of it, as it is helpful when trying to identify it later.
     
  • If you see a plant you do not recognise then please take close-ups of the leaves as well as the flowers, and a shot of the whole plant - many species have similar flowers but different leaves, or vice versa.
     
  • If you are unsure what an organism is, it is helpful to record the kind of habitat it was found in and what plants are nearby, as well as anything else you notice about it.
     
  • Try to spend a bit of time watching each area of your garden ­ you will be surprised how much more you can spot after a few minutes observation.
     
  • Get the whole family involved!  Children love nothing more than going around looking for creepy-crawlies!

Please remember that no matter how big your garden is, or how many species you can find every record is important as garden biodiversity is relatively unstudied. Even the smallest garden will have more wildlife than you think!

 
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