Northamptonshire Biodiversity Records Centre

Introduction to Wildlife Recording

Recording at NBRC bioblitz 2013
Recording at our 2013 biobliz event

What to record

We are interested in all records new, recent and historic. Together they provide a really powerful way of understanding our local environment, identifying its key features, valuing our natural capital and telling stories about the past and the changes that have occurred - or which might result from new interventions.

Whether you go out specifically to record in the countryside, along waterways or in your local park or simply like to spot wildlife in your garden, on your way to work or whilst walking the dog you can contribute towards creating and maintaining a knowledge base of the distribution of species across the county.


This information helps to build a better understanding of the natural world and helps in the decision making processes such as conservation management and land use planning.  So, letting us know what you've seen, whether it's now rare, still common or an invasive non-native is important and can make a real difference to guiding plans and actions.


Essential information

To make a record we need four key pieces of information, often referred to as 'the four Ws'.  Who? What? Where? and When?  Our Recording Handbook will get you started.

  • Who - Your name or the name of the person who saw the species, preferably in the format of 'Mr Joe B. Bloggs'.  Please also provide us with details of how we can contact you, ideally a phone number, address and/or e-mail address.  Your contact details will remain confidential in accordance with the Data Protection Act.
  • What - State what species you have seen, heard, or seen signs of.  If possible, please include the scientific name to avoid any confusion over common names.  For example, 'Horse Chestnut' could be either a moth (Pachycnemia hippocastanaria) or a tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) species.  Photographs (giving different views if possible) are of great help in confirming identifications.  For help with identification, please see our Useful resources and links for recorders page for local groups and county recorder contact details.
  • Where - This information is very important to help ensure your record can be validated.  All records need to be checkedas a form of 'quality control' in order to avoid duplication or the collection of inaccurate information.  The location information should include the location name and/or a brief location description, such as 'Lings Woods, in the car park'.  Ideally, you should include a grid reference of six figures or more, as this is much more helpful to us than providing a postcode.  If you're not familiar with using grid references, you can use the Bedfordshire Natural History Society's excellent 'Grab a grid reference' tool or .  If you would like any help with grid references, please do contact us.
  • When - We need to know the date or dates when you saw the species.  The date needs to be in the format of dd/mm/yyyy.  We can accept date ranges too, especially if you see the same species each day while you're out and about, providing a start and end date, such as dd/mm/yyyy to dd/mm/yyyy.

Further details to include could be information about; abundance, sex, life stage or what the species was doing, for example; feeding, singing, nesting, mating, 'growing on the side of the trunk of a large dead ash tree' or the condition it was in.  Further comments, such as 'dead at the side of the A45'  also provide useful information.


Submitting species records is easy!

You can now enter species records directly via this website (which has several benefits).


You're welcome to provide them in the format that is easiest for you, whether electronically or on paper, although the former is preferable where possible.  This can be in the form of an Excel spreadsheet, Word document or even an export from a recording database system such as Recorder or Mapmate.  

To make things simple you can download and complete our Recording Spreadsheet.

How you choose to send us your records may depend on the number and variety of species records and the frequency with which you wish to submit them.  Please contact us if you are unsure which method to use or would like further advice on record submission.

Submit your records to us via e-mail or by using the details on our Contact Us page.