One million wildlife records

One million wildlife records have now been gathered in North East Scotland by volunteers and experts.

At the beginning of 2012, the Records Centre tally stood at just over 860,000. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the NE Scotland Local Biodiversity Action Plan Partnership (NELBAP) and the NE Scotland Biological Records Centre (NESBReC) set up a “Wildlife Counts” programme, with the target of reaching the magical one million mark by the end of the year. The one-millionth record was a red squirrel seen in a garden near Laurencekirk in August.

The Records Centre has been collecting data from volunteers since 2000. Volunteers are crucial to wildlife recording. With plants, birds, animals and insects all around us, it’s impossible to get a full picture without local enthusiasts.

The wildlife records that volunteers collect are valuable for many reasons. For those studying wildlife, records show changes in numbers and spread across the North East – so recent records of comma butterflies suggest this southern species is moving north – perhaps due to climate change.

As well, records of red and grey squirrels can help show how effective control of the introduced grey squirrel has been.

So will the three organisations stop at one million records? Not likely!

Ewen Cameron, SNH’s Tayside & Grampian operations manager, explains: “The more records we gather, the better our information, which in turns helps us make the right decisions to protect the wonderful wildlife we all enjoy in the North East.

“Just as importantly, wildlife recording is great fun. You can do it in your garden, out on the farm, in your local park, along the coast or in the woods. You’ll be getting some exercise and doing something useful.”