RSPB Scotland is encouraging people to take part in worldwide citizen science project
RSPB Scotland is encouraging people to get closer to nature where they live by taking part in this year’s City Nature Challenge over this coming weekend, 24-27 April. This international citizen science project aims to highlight nature in cities and encourage people to get involved in recording wildlife using a free app over a four-day period.
This annual event is usually a competition between over 200 cities worldwide to see which one can record the most species in that time. Glasgow is one of nine UK cities that take part and the only one in Scotland. Its involvement is coordinated by RSPB Scotland’s Giving Nature a Home team and last year a big bioblitz event took place at Kelvingrove attended by over 300 people with 134 observations recorded from dippers to dandelions.
However, in response to Covid-19 and the ongoing lockdown there have been some changes to this year’s Challenge – it is no longer a competition and instead has a more collaborative approach across the UK meaning those who live outwith the usual participating cities can also take part whether they are in urban or rural places. In line with government advice and social distancing people are asked to record the wildlife and plants at their own home such as what they can see from their windows, spot in their flower boxes, find outside in their gardens, or on their balconies.
Sarah-Jayne Forster, RSPB Scotland’s Giving Nature a Home Project Officer says: “This year’s City Nature Challenge is a great way to discover the wildlife and plants that live where you live. Many people are finding solace in nature at the moment, and taking part in this recording project will not only help you learn more about the wildlife at your home but also contribute useful data to biological records across the country. It’s lots of fun too!”
“We’re encouraging everyone across Scotland to take part over the four days, and it’s a really good activity to get children involved with and do as a family. You don’t need outdoor space or any previous experience of nature recording – all you need is your phone with the iNaturalist app on it. The only criteria for submitting records is that the photo must be of wild species so no pets or garden plants.”
To take part people are asked to visit the City Nature Challenge website and download the free iNaturalist app. Then during the four days take photos of the plants, insects, animals, birds or fungi spotted from windows or their outdoor space at home. No expert knowledge needed as the app will help to ID findings, or photos can be shared with the global community that use the app for an answer.
To help find species to record RSPB Scotland suggests looking for birds in your garden by putting up bird feeders, especially if they are closes to bushes or hedges. You can also look for birds from a window. Insects such as butterflies and bees are attracted to flowers, while other invertebrates can be found under logs and rocks. If you have a pond you could do a pond dip with a net. There are lots of nature based activities that children can do from home on the RSPB Wild Challenge Awards website.
Sarah-Jayne continues: “We’d love to hear about what you find, even if you don’t have any recordings as it’s all helpful information - share your photos with RSPB Scotland Facebook and Twitter using #citynaturechallenge and #cncuk. It’s something that everyone can enjoy and take part in.”