Biological Recording In The North West

Provided below are a few links to other pages and sites related to Biological Recording and Ecological Recording both in the North West of England and in the country as a whole. Some of the more exciting projects in Biological Recording which are being undertaken at the present time are indicated here. Please do have a look at them and also at the rest of this site - navigation bar at the bottom of this page. 

If you have plant or animal records for the Cheshire region (Chashire, Halton, Warrington, Wirral or Stockport areas) then please add them to the growing database at the Cheshire Local Record Centre here !! 

Background & History to Recording in the North-West: 

Britain has long had a band of people who have been interested in natural history and in recording both where they have observed various animals and plants as well as the habits and biology of our fauna and flora. Although this has probably happened since the dawn of mankind the process began to increase in importance around the time of Queen Elizabeth the first when Britain, France and Spain where very much involved with exploring the world and both cataloguing and exploiting their new and exotic findings. 

The reign of Queen Victoria also saw an increase in the general public's interest in science and this led to an unsurpassed mania for the collecting of all things to do with the natural world. Some of this mania passed to other countries in Europe and to the United States of America. In Britain many natural history societies were formed covering everything from ferns to moths, and from desmids to mammals. Much of our present plethora of museum specimens come from this period. With the start of World War I many of these learned societies folded never to arise from the ashes but a few survived both this and the succeeding World War II and are still extant today. 

In the North West we had, and still have, an overwhelming abundance of such societes and groups, indeed it is thought that the large number which have existed were due to the fact that the area was home to much of the Industrial Revolution in Britain and that the workers both wanted and needed an interest which would allow them to get away from the grime and the factories for one day a week and which would provide an excuse to go out into the surrounding countryside. 

Examples of the societies and groups still in existence in the North West include: 

Examples Of North-West Natural History Societies
Lancashire & Cheshire Entomological SocietyLancashire & Cheshire Fauna Society
North West Naturalists' UnionCheshire & Wirral Ornithological Society
Liverpool Bay Wader GroupBroxton Barn Owl Group
North West Fungus GroupAlvanley Conservation Society
Cheshire Bat GroupFrodsham Natural History Society
Butterfly ConservationPond Life Project
Black-necked Grebe Study GroupHalton Naturalists
Leigh Ringing GroupMersey Estuary Conservation Group
Raven Society (Entomologists)Clwyd Entomological Society
Nantwich Natural History SocietyFrodsham Wildlife Group
Liverpool Botanical SocietyLancashire Fauna Society
Lymm Ornithological GroupMid-Cheshire Ornithological Society
Warrington Field ClubWidnes Young Ornithologists Club
Witton Area Conservation GroupWoolston Eyes Group
Knutsford Ornithological SocietyGreater Manchester Bird Recorders
The British Dragonfly Society 
And many, many more across Cheshire, Lancashire, Merseyside, as well as  North Wales and Cumbria.
How To 'Do' Biological Recording: 
The 'doing' of biological recording has many forms as each group of organisms requires differing techniques to find, observe, record, collect, and preserve. However, the 'what' to record and the handling and analysis of the data are very similar. 

Let us first decide what we need for a record to be useful/worthwhile. The data which needs to be recorded as a part of a biological record can vary greatly depending upon what is being found and even on how it is found. For example, the fields below are the ones which form the basis of almost any record and should always be included with any submission to a record centre:

  • The Date - day/month/year
  • The Place - usually a site name and an Ordnance Survey Map Grid Reference - (Don't worry about this one - if you don't know how to do it we can help you!).
  • The Name and Contact Details of the Recorder - (i.e. the person who saw the organism).
  • The Name and Contact Details of the Determiner - (i.e. the person who identified the organism - if this is different than the Recorder - see above).
  • The Name of the Organism (the Species) - seen and identified (e.g. Blackbird, or Turdus merula) - as can be seen either English Name or Latin though if you can give both together it helps to prevent any possible misinterpretation).

Other information is always useful; for example:

  • Numbers of the organism seen.
  • Sex of the organism seen.
  • Stage of the organism (adult, larva, egg, flowering, fruiting, etc.).

For certain types of recording others items of information may be absolutely imperative. For example:

  • If one was trapping migratory birds with Mist Nets then one may wish to note and record any birds with leg rings and their ring numbers.
  • One may wish to record the type of trapping method used to catch insects (e.g. pitfall traps, water traps, light traps, sweep-netting, etc.).

Many techniques are used for biological recording to actually find the relevant organisms but essentially it boils down to seeing a plant or animal, identifying the organism, writing down the above items of data for that observation, and then sending the information in to rECOrd where we can make practical, and pro-active use of the data to help protect and improve conditions for our wildlife and both their and our own habitat for the future. Please help by sending your records in - see our recording form.

Should you wish to learn more about the differing techniques involved in biological recording, most of which are beyond our remit here, then please do contact rECOrd with your queries and they will attempt to put you in touch with someone who can help - e-mail the Local Record Centre staff at: rECOrd

Biological recording, or biodiversity recording, covers many disciplines with a vast numbers of techniques and methodologies, many being dependent upon the species being observed/recorded or looked for. However, it can be summarised in the following manner:-

"Biological recording is the discipline of looking for and finding living organisms and noting certain specific items of data relating to that observation."

Even the above is not always correct as often not finding an organism can be almost as informative as finding it. However, most uses of the data produced by recording and recorders is to do with finding organisms in specific sites. Enjoy your recording - send your records to the relevant County Recorder - and send your records to the Local Record Centre (rECOrd). Thank you


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