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Welcome to the Great Somerset Wildlife Count

By entering your sightings you are directly contributing to our understanding of what goes on in all the corners of the county. Please wait while the entry window refreshes – this may take a few seconds. If you need to take something out with you to record on paper then the project PDF will be handy. It has the ID guides for the species and a page to print for your sightings.

This is a long-term collaboration, expected to run for 10 years or more. It will be run once each season over a weekend. The goal is to obtain data to indicate trends and fill in some background species noise not available elsewhere.

For fungi, mammals and amphibians, just count up how many you see and record them once – no need to record them again in the same location.

For birds, it’s the highest number you count landing – at the same time and in the same location – typically during an hour of observation if watching from a window or static.

Please remember, when dealing with mushrooms or fungi, look but don’t touch and definitely don’t eat!!

Reports of wildlife loss, such as the 2020 Living Planet released by the WWF, continue to highlight the perils our natural world is experiencing. Combined with extreme climatic events as a result of anthropogenic global warming, the species and ecosystems on this planet face unprecedented pressures from a human-caused extinction event. But it’s not just the loss of individual species that are a problem, it’s also the loss of abundance within a wide range of species and degradation of ecosystems as a whole.

SERC currently holds over 3 million data records. However, the majority of these are focused on protected or rare species. We have a lack of knowledge about the more common species in Somerset and so are not able to monitor trends in numbers or geographical spread. At the moment, we can’t tell what is happening to hedgehogs, blackbirds, bumblebees etc because these species are not focused on and not in areas outside of Somersets best habitats.

To try and address this, SERC & SWT will work together quarterly to deliver a seasonal community science survey to monitor abundance levels of common species across Somerset. Each season will focus on a different set of common species (moths, amphibians, pollinators etc) or iconic species such as swifts. The team will develop easy to use spotting sheets, similar to RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch, and invite people across Somerset to take part over a designated weekend, recording their results and sending to SERC.

This data over time will enable SERC to monitor abundance trends across Somerset and will support a new Somerset County Council initiative called the ‘Somerset State of Nature’. This is a long-term project, ten years plus, and the quarterly surveys will need to be repeated annually for the same species so have needed to be chosen carefully at the outset.

Other initiatives will be developed separately, and we have already started to discuss work with some of our specialist groups to monitor trends in more specialist species.

Several big projects are happening at the moment, with the government introducing biodiversity net gain into the planning and development system, and the movement to develop Nature Recovery Networks and Strategies as part of the Environment Act.

With your help, we can work towards building a better map of the State of Nature in Somerset and beyond, to inform and shape the future of Somerset’s environment through these initiatives.

Whether you’ve spotted one of these in your garden, on a dog or countryside walk, or even on a bike ride, getting that sighting recorded is going to be helpful.

This web page is dedicated to collecting the sightings made for the Great Somerset Nature Watch, but if you’re unable to, they don’t need to be uploaded to the website as soon as you’ve seen it, just make a note on a piece of paper, on the recording form we provide, or even as a note on your phone.

What we will need is a date, a location, the name of the species you saw and the number of individuals you saw. You can record the location any way you feel comfortable, you just need to be able to recall where you saw it when uploading your record and there’s a handy map on the SERC page to help you. Recommended ways of recording your location include Dropping a pin on Google or Apple Maps, a British National Grid reference, a Lat Lon from your GPS on your phone, a what3words location (an easy to use location app available for Android and iOS), or even the name of a street and town. The online SERC map allows you to search for your location via British National Grid, Lat Lon and by placename.

The survey will run for 48hrs and the trick to recording is trying not to record the same individual twice and not on the same day.

Examples for guidelines on recording
Only count the birds that land and as the same birds may land more than once, only record the highest number of each bird species you see at any one time. Wait until the next day to repeat.

If on a walk, just make a note of what you see along the way, with a location for each of the sightings on your journey, and only in one direction (stop recording on your return if backtracking the same path).

If it’s just a one-off whilst you’re out and about, that’s great!

If you see a frog in a pond, or hedgehog in your garden, make a note of the total number of individuals and just make the one record and don’t count it again the next day.

Plants and fungi only needed to be recorded in one location once.

If you are deliberately looking for these species and don’t find them you should still add it on the form but record an abundance of 0 (zero). This is important as we then know it was NOT seen.

The names of the species we are interested in on this occasion are listed below. Each is a link to a page where a picture and details of each can be found. If you see other things you want to tell us about then click here. Download the project PDF here, including recording form.

Honey Fungus
Honey Fungus
Painted Lady
Painted Lady