The heart of our activities is recording wildlife in Hertfordshire and discovering how wildlife is responding to the changing environment over time. To do this we need your wildlife observation records.
Submitting records is easy. In general it requires just just six pieces of information:
1 - The species
2 - The nature of the observation
3 - A name for the location
4 - An appropriate grid reference
5 - The date of the observation (and time if this is relevant)
6 - The name of the observer
Those requirements in more detail are:
The name of the species seen, for example Fox, Emperor Dragonfly, Early Purple Orchid. You can use the common (English) name or the scientific (Latin) name. If you are unsure of your identification, take a photograph and/or ask for help. Identification of some species can be tricky, with thousands of species in the county even lifelong naturalists can't identify them all, so don't be afraid to ask for help. Take a picture if you can, or possibly provide a sample, or simply describe what you saw. Careful observations can often lead to identification. Also don't be embarrassed to report common species – if they aren't reported then the records won't show them to be common!
In addition to the name of the species please include additional information on the nature of your sighting, where relevant. This will vary between species groups and might include:-
- the number seen,
- whether male or female, adult or juvenile,
- was it a sighting of a live or dead animal or a field sign such as a mole hill.
For example, for a Badger did you see a live animal or a road-kill, a sett, tracks or a latrine?
For a butterfly, how many did you see and were they adult, egg, caterpillar or chrysalis, a mating pair or egg-laying (and on what). Each County Recorder will be glad to let you know what information is relevant for their group.
The location may be a specific place, for example, Amwell Nature Reserve or the nearest town or village.
Please also give at least a 4-figure grid reference, this defines a 1Km square, eg TL2313, and preferably a 6-figure reference, defining an area 100m x 100m e.g. TL236138.
The HNHS's own record submission pages and the national iRecord website and phone app automatically provide 4-figure grid references when you enter a place name from the default list. Zooming the map and clicking on a more precise location will generate a 6-figure grid reference.
'When' and 'Who'
The 'When' and the 'Who' are straightforward: we need to know the date of the observation and who saw it.
And that's about it! Records, once verified, can be used to map species distributions, to detect changes of distribution, abundance or seasons, help us to understand the ecology of species and support the conservation of Hertfordshire's wildlife. With so much development currently proposed or planned for the county it is important to feed in our records so that informed decisions can be made.
So, where should records be sent, and in what format?
The Hertfordshire County Recorders have been appointed to collate records for their specialist groups and will be pleased to receive your records and discuss your observations. The full list of Recorders and their contact details are on the Contacts page. Just contact the one(s) that seems appropriate and they will be able to advise you.
Records for birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and damselflies and dragonflies can be submitted direct to the recorder through this website. For other wildlilfe groups, including plants, slugs and snails, spiders and butterflies, moths and other insects the iRecord website or phone app can be used to submit electronic records that will be shared with the county recorders and sent to the Herts Environmental Records Centre once verified. Otherwise you can download the appropriate form from this website and email or post your records to the relevant recorder. Whilst our Recorders are happy to accept records in many formats, by recording your sightings on-line or using the spreadsheet/word documents you can greatly assist them to enter your observations into our databases. Quite a few have provided standard forms or spreadsheets for their species that can be downloaded from the section, and they can provide paper copies on request.
Help with identifying specimens
Most county recorders will be happy to help you identify species if you send them a photograph or specimen.
When sending specimens to County Recorders for identification please check and pay the correct postage (but bweare that any envelope or package that is more than 'wafer thin' (more than 5mm and up to 25mm) constitutes a 'large letter' and needs a 'large' stamp! Even the smallest specimen tube is too thick to qualify for ordinary 'small' letter postage rate.
Give it a go!
For some groups and uncommon species, additional information about your record may be valuable and should be considered:
- Habitat (preferably using a standard format, but if not, being as precise as possible. Some subjects need a micro-habitat)
- Number seen (a count)
- Sex or life stage (e.g. immature females)
- Behavioural notes (e.g. breeding proof)
- Associated species.
For more uncommon or unusual species the recorder may need additional evidence to support your observation. For example the Bird Recorder maintains a list of Hertfordshire rare birds. Records of these species need to be supported by a description of the bird and the circumstance in which it was seen.
There may be other categories of information for highly specialised recording, which the Recorder will provide details of. If in doubt, always ask.
Records of any groups or species for which there is currently no County Recorder can be submitted using iRecord or sent directly to: Hertfordshire Environmental Records Centre, c/o HMWT, Grebe House, St Michael's Street, St Albans AL3 4SN
or send by email.