Wildlife surveys and monitoring projects

There are always campaigns, surveys and projects that require input from members of the public, on a national and local basis. The listing below includes short and long term monitoring. You don’t always have to be an expert, and it is a great way to learn more with the support of the real experts!

Many of the surveys require you to register and send in data regularly, however there are also a number of sightings projects where data can be sent in on a one-off basis. These surveys are great if you are on holiday in the area, especially to involve children – many of them include an information sheet that can be downloaded from the web or requested from the organisation. Remember to do this before you go away!

Birds

Report finding a ringed bird
If you find a bird, either dead or alive, with an identification ring on its leg then you can report this to the correct organisation.

National Owl Pellet Survey (Mammal Society)
Pellets form a valuable source of information about the diets of owls and, indirectly, about changes in small mammal populations. Volunteers collect and send pellets monthly to the Project Co-ordinator for analysis.

Bird Track (BTO)
BirdTrack is an exciting project that will look more closely at migration movements of birds throughout Britain and Ireland at all times of year. It will also study the distributions of scarce birds in Britain and Ireland. BirdTrack provides facilities for observers to store and manage their own records and for forwarding records to County Bird Recorders. The results will contribute to knowledge of birds and to their conservation at national, regional and local scales.

Breeding Bird Survey (BTO)
Can you identify birds by call and song? Then why not participate in the UK’s premier survey for keeping track of our breeding birds. Just 4-5 hours of fieldwork are required per year. The BTO are always looking for BBS surveyors in many parts of the UK, including Scotland.

Garden Bird Watch (BTO)
The BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch is a year-round project that gathers important information on how different species of birds use gardens and how this use changes over time. Gardens are an important habitat for many wild birds, providing a useful refuge for those affected by changes in the management of our countryside.

Big Garden Birdwatch (RSPB)
The annual count of birds viewed in gardens is now the biggest project of its type in the world. It is fun, free, really easy, only takes an hour and is your chance to do something that really counts for the birds you love.

Heronries Survey (BTO)
The Heronries Census began in 1928 and is the longest-running breeding-season monitoring scheme in the world. The aim of this census is to collect annual nest counts of Grey Herons Ardea cinerea from as many sites as possible in the United Kingdom. More areas require covering in Scotland.

Mammals

Mammals on Roads Survey (PTES and Mammals Trust UK)
The trust is asking volunteers to look out for mammals, both dead and alive, seen during car journeys between July and September. The survey has been running since 2001, and previous results are available on their web site. You can enter your data online, download survey forms, or request an information pack by post.

Living with Mammals (PTES and Mammals Trust UK)
The survey asks volunteers to record the animals they see in the green spaces around them including parks, churchyards, allotments and gardens for three months in the spring (april to june).

Plants

Wildflowers Count (Plantlife)
In 2000 Plantlife launched the Common Plants Survey, using a list of 65 common plants. As a result of feedback the survey has now been widened to become  the new Wildflowers Count survey. You can restrict your survey to the 99 common plants found n the guide on a plot or path, or widen your search depending upon your level of expertise.

Ancient Tree Hunt (The Woodland Trust, The Tree Register and the Ancient Tree Forum)

Ancient trees are a wonderful part of our natural world and heritage. Your help is needed to find all the ancient trees across the UK. A comprehensive map of all the UK’s ancient trees would help us to conserve them. There are thousands of ancient trees scattered across our countryside yet to be ‘discovered’.

Marine

Report a cetacean sighting (Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust)
The Trust always wants sightings of cetaceans in the area reported to them, either through their web site or by post on forms downloadable from their web site.

Jellyfish Survey (Marine Conservation Society)
In an effort to understand the ecology of Britain’s leatherback turtles, MCS would like you to help record jellyfish strandings on local beaches and jellyfish swarms at sea.

National Whale Stranding Recording Scheme
All UK strandings and cetaceans accidentally caught at sea (by-catches) should be reported directly to the Natural History Museum (0207 942 5155) or via the Scottish Agricultural Centre’s Veterinary Investigation Centre, Inverness (01463 243030). If an animal is still alive then the SSPCA (Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) should be contacted first with a view to keeping the animal alive and returning it to the sea.

Adopt A Beach (Marine Conservation Society)
Not quite a survey … but still a very worthwhile way to help out. From experience we have found this a wonderful way to get to know your area and its wildlife better.