Wildlife Identification Guides

There are a huge selection of online guides to identifying wildlife species in the UK, and below we have listed the best of them. If you have any suggestions of other sites that we could add then please let us know.

Trees

A Key for Identifying British Trees and Shrubs
Easy to use photo key that enables you to distinguish between 80 species of Trees and Shrubs commonly found growing wild in Britain and Ireland from either their bare twigs, or from summer foliage. Also includes a description of the mature tree or shrub, including flowers and fruit, photos of the whole tree/shrub, leaves, winter twig, flowers etc. Also a distribution map by species for Britain and Ireland.

Tree Identification
Guide to identifying native  trees in the UK, with good information about the parts of a leaf that will help you in your id. Also a guide to the main UK tree species including bark, buds, leaves, flowers and fruits.

Hazel Information Resource
A detailed information resource about hazel in Scotland compiled by Trees for Life. Currently includes a species profile, Coastal Hazelwoods and their Lichens, Scottish Atlantic hazelwoods, mythology and folklore of hazel woodlands.

Plants

Britain’s Orchids
A fully interactive, searchable version of the book Britain’s Orchids by David Lang, published jointly by WILDGuides and English Nature. A fabulous resource, with detailed species accounts, habitat information and further hughly relevant chapters.

Postcode Plants Database
The Flora for Fauna database generates lists of native plants for any specified postal district in the UK to encourage gardeners and other horticulturalists to plant the native trees, shrubs and flowers that are local to their areas.

A Guide to Lichens on Twigs (Natural History Museum)
A user-friendly guide to over 60 lichens which can be found growing on twigs. With its help you will find identification of these unique organisms easy and fun.

British Lichens
Extensive collection of photos identifying British lichens, very useful if you already have a fairly good idea of which species you have found.

A Key to Common Lichens on Trees in England (Natural History Museum)
This key to common species of lichens on trees was prepared in collaboration by the Natural History Museum of London and the University of Trieste, as a further aid to the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) Air Survey which looks at lichens as indicators of air. The interactive key uses photos, and helps narrow down to find the species being identified. Can also be printed, or downloaded to a pocket PC. Although an English resource, this is still a useful aid north of the border.

Algae Vision (Natural History Museum)
A collection of images of freshwater and terrestrial algae of the United Kingdom originating from a collaborative project between The British Phycological Society and the Natural History Museum, London.

Birds

RSPB Bird Guide
An introduction to UK bird species plus some introduced species which are thriving in the UK. Includes help with identification, breeding information and details about their lifestyle and feeding habits.

British Garden Birds
An excellent guide to some of the UK’s most regularly seen bird species, with calls, photographs and more. Resources include bird identification photographs, sound recordings, distribution maps, feeding and nesting activities. Also covered are observations about the behaviour of the birds, notes on the species movements, such as migration, conservation status and any special measures.

Insects

The Cockayne Collection: British & Irish Butterflies and Moths
The Cockayne Trust, in collaboration with The Natural History Museum, aims to provide free access to a comprehensive atlas of British butterflies and moths, illustrating all native and introduced species and their variation.

UK Moths
The aim of this site is to illustrate as many species of British moths as possible and to provide this information in an accessible format.

What’s that caterpillar?
This site features over 800 caterpillars of Britain & Europe. If you have found a caterpillar but can’t identify it, this is your first port of call! Identify caterpillars by the plant you found it on or by description, whether it is hairy or smooth, with antlers or just slug-like. Colour images of caterpillars will help to identify them.

British Butterflies
A beautifully produced guide with a large range of excellent photos and species information. Includes flight charts to show which butterflies are on the wing when, suggestions of sites to visit to see specific species, population trends, plus an extensive stock library of images. This has long been a favourite site of ours, and now has widened to include other species as well as butterflies.

British Bumblebee Identification Guide (Natural History Museum)
Interactive tool to identify the 25 British bumblebee species. Find out more about your bee, including species characteristics, habitat and distribution.

UK Bumblebee Colour Groups (Rothamstead Research)
A simple diagram to help group bumblebees according to their colour.

Back Garden Moths
Search their species databases for UK moths and butterflies. Includes photos, basic species information and sightings.

Miscellaneous

Cetacean Species Identification Guide (Sea Watch Foundation)
A guide to common whale and dolphin species in the UK, as well as rare and infrequent visitors.

Bioimages Virtual Fieldguide
Offers a large selection of pictures of Natural History objects, mostly British in origin. The images are presented to illustrate biodiversity and as an aid to identification.

British Garden Slugs and Snails
Provided by the Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland, this key can help you identify snails ands slugs found in the UK.

Pond Life Identification Kit
A basic but illuminating guide to some of the smaller pond life, including a “virtual pond dip” that is great for children.

Earthworm Guide (Natural History Museum)
Use the photo gallery or key to identify UK earthworm species, and find a summary of their characteristics, what they eat and where they live.

Also of interest

Scottish Executive Environment Statistics including latest version of Key Scottish Environment Statistics.

Science and Plants for Schools
This valuable resource creates opportunities for teachers and students of all ages to become more knowledgeable about plants and interested in plant science. Includes image database, journal articles, teaching resources, classroom activities and much more.