Getting Started in Recording
So, you’re interested in wildlife and would like to know how to go about recording on your local patch, or perhaps you would like to specialise in a particular group for Sussex. Where do you go next? Who can you go to for support and advice?
- Adastra Discussion Group
- Recording Groups
- Making Records
- Grid References
- Species Identification
- Sending Records to SxBRC
- Google Spreadsheets
Introduction to Recording in Sussex
The Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre is at the heart of the recording community in Sussex; we have good contacts with county recorders and organisations that will be able to get you off on the right foot. A good place to meet these people is at the Sussex Biological Recorders’ Seminar which is an annual event held at Adastra Hall in Hassocks; it’s also a good place for inspiration. Find out more on our seminar page. Every year at the seminar we publish an edition of Adastra, our publication dedicated to recording in Sussex. It comprises of a variety of articles by recording groups and county recorders from across the two counties.
The Adastra Discussion Group
We run a Sussex recorder's email discussion group that anyone can join and participate in. It is called the Adastra Discussion Group in honour of our yearly recorders' seminar. To join please visit the Adastra Discussion Group page, or you may visit the archives.
Most groups have regular field trips and indoor talks, so see what takes your fancy; whether its vascular plants, lichens, bats, butterflies or fungi, there will always be people at the Adastra Biological Recorders' Seminar or on the Adastra List to help you find your way and introduce you to the subject. Check out the different county recorders and groups on our county recorders page.
Getting started with recording really only requires a pencil, paper, some patience and a willingness to learn. To put it very simply, recording is writing down what you see and where you saw it. However, in order to create a more useful record, and for us to be able to place the record into our database, we need a little more information than this (but not much). So, when writing up your records, please make sure that these essential bits of information are included:
- Species name
- Location name
- UK national grid reference (ideally 6 figure and taken from a GPS)
- Recorder’s name
- Any other details such as whether it was a female, an egg, if it was flying or feeding, how many there were, was it flowering, was it a juvenile, etc.
We recommend investing in some good field identification guides, however if you are unsure of the identification of something out in the field, such as a plant or a bird, it is good to sketch the subject so that you can spend more time looking it up at home. Digital cameras are also good for taking a record shot so that you can revisit it at a later date.
Sending Records to SxBRC
The best way to send us records is via iRecord. Hosted by the Biological Record Centre at CEH Wallingford, iRecord is a free, easy-to-use online recording website. Records that you enter into iRecord are immediately available for us to download. What's more, they're available to view by the wider community through the site, making it an ideal way to share and explore wildlife sightings.
Alternatives to iRecord
If you prefer not to use an online recording tool there are a number of alternatives you can choose from:
Species Recorder is an easy-to-use data entry tool that you can download for free from our website. There are also a number of other ways that you can send your records to us:
- Excel (xls) format spreadsheets [download example template]
- CSV format text files
- Recorder (versions 3, 2002 and 6) export
- MapMate export
- Paper based records, sent in via the post
If you have records in a format not mentioned above, please contact us to discuss as we will most probably be able to work out a solution.
If you do not own spreadsheet software, do take a look at Google Spreadsheets, a free spreadsheet application from the makers of the popular search engine. It can open and save Excel compatible files, and is a capable, not to mention cheaper, alternative to Microsoft Excel. If you wish to enter records via this route, please download our record entry spreadsheet and open it up in Google Spreadsheets. When you're done, save the spreadsheet back into Excel (xls) format and send it in.
If you have any queries about any of the above, please get in contact with Bob Foreman on 01273 497570 or send him an email.