New species recording site hits 10,000 entries!

A new online recording system, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and introduced just a couple of months ago has already received a substantial number of interesting sightings.

Nature Counts, a species recording website and database by Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, has hit over 10,000 records since its launch in July 2019.  Made possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, Nature Counts makes it easy for Trust staff and volunteers, as well as members of the public to upload details of the wildlife and plants they’ve spotted in the area.

As well as over 6000 historic records added to the site by our volunteers and over 1000 new records generated through the Data for Nature project, there have been a variety of different species recorded by members of the public across the Sheffield and Rotherham region. From common stinkhorn to fringed water lily, a family of hedgehogs and a common shrew, we’ve already had a number of interesting sightings!  The Sheffield and Tinsley canal has been a popular spot for dragonfly sightings, including the common hawker and golden-ringed dragonfly, whilst the Rivelin Valley remains a favourite for spotting birds such as grey heron and grey wagtail.

The unsettled weather during August meant we received fewer butterfly sightings than expected, however we have had records of a long winged conehead and a Roesel’s Bush-cricket south of Rotherham; both species more commonly found in the south of the country. Whilst early efforts to survey dragonflies and damselflies as part of the Data for Nature project were rained off, when the conditions became more favourable the surveys turned out some exciting results including the find of an emperor dragonfly exuviae at Woodhouse Washlands.  Along with a darter exuviae at the same site, this provides evidence of successful breeding within the ponds at the nature reserve.The map indicates the source and location of current entries on the Nature Counts recording site.

Based on the data collected, the Trust can begin to make more evidence based conservation choices on our nature reserves, and inform our Living Landscapes strategy around Sheffield and Rotherham.  Also feeding into the National Biodiversity Network’s database, the NBN Atlas, the data collected is shared by ecologists across the country and used to inform national policy decisions about nature and the environment.

Dr Jo Judge, CEO of the National Biodiversity Network Trust, said:  “‘Nature Counts’ is a brilliant initiative that’s getting local people out and about engaging with nature.  The 10,000 wildlife records that have been generated will be accessible for others to use, via the NBN Atlas, for conservation, planning and policy decisions.”

The species recording site will be a lasting legacy from Data for Nature, a project to improve and standardise survey methods and data collection as recommended in the 2018 Sheffield State of Nature report, supported by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Hedgehog photo (c) Richard Burkmar
Common Shrew photo (c) Carl Wright