Colleen Turner works in our Giving Nature a Home team. In today's blog, she discusses how we can carry the momentum from January's Big Garden Birdwatch into the upcoming City Nature Challenge. See if you can guess which city Colleen is supporting by the end.

The results are finally here for Big Garden Birdwatch 2022, there were 44,412 participants in Scotland and 2,047 of those were in Glasgow City alone! That means that almost 5% of our participants and their recordings came from Glasgow, which is a fantastic achievement. We would love to keep this momentum going and continue to encourage people of all walks of life to record wildlife. Many might wonder why it is so important for the public to help record nature and wildlife, and the reason is that only you know what is in your gardens and green spaces. In urban areas like Glasgow, wildlife is prone to be in the parks, gardens, and greenspaces so that’s why biological recording in your local area is so important; you help conservation charities, like RSPB Scotland, see what is happening with our local wildlife.

Now in the past, biological recording was seen to be quite exclusive and very technical, however there is now an app called iNaturalist which makes recording much more straightforward and accessible! This app makes it easy for the whole family to get involved and begin recording wildlife, and what better way to get started than during City Nature Challenge weekend. The City Nature Challenge happens from Friday 29 April to Monday 2 May, as cities across the globe compete to get the most biological recordings. This means that Edinburgh and Glasgow (along with their surrounding regions), will be competing against one another, which should make for a fun weekend! The Glasgow region also includes Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Inverclyde, while Edinburgh also includes Falkirk, Fife, Clackmannanshire and the Lothians, so you can take part almost anywhere in the central belt. I think Glasgow can continue with their momentum from Big Garden Birdwatch and get even more biological recordings, because in this case you will be recording all nature and wildlife, not just birds!

With apps such as iNaturalist, biological recording has never been easier! Image credit: Ben Andrew

The iNaturalist app makes recording fun and accessible to all - this is a great way to get outside and spend time in nature. Not only is it fun, but it is incredibly rewarding because you're creating a snapshot of the wildlife in your area. The great thing about iNaturalist is that the recordings (once verified by a recorder on the app) are transferred to the local biological recording centres. In turn, this allows conservationists to view and research how different species are coping amidst the nature and climate crisis. For example, over the years Big Garden Birdwatch has shown us that our house sparrows and starlings are declining, whereas greenfinches have increased in 2022 after a difficult few years. This is only one example of the benefits of citizen science and biological recording.

A starling sits on a fence by a flowering garden plant.

Projects like the City Nature Challenge and Big Garden Birdwatch have helped conservation bodies identify struggling species such as starlings. Image credit: Ben Andrew

So leading from our success with Big Garden Birdwatch, lets keep our eyes peeled for our local nature and get recording. Keep your phone at the ready to capture the nature on your doorstep and help conservationists see what species are increasing or declining. We are all part of our planet so let’s help in any way we can. And after the City Nature Challenge weekend, please do continue to record whenever you are in your greenspaces.

Happy recording everyone!


Further reading

City Nature Challenge website

City Nature Challenge - Edinburgh details

City Nature Challenge - Glasgow details

iNaturalist website

Header image credit: Louise Greenhorn