How to make a record

To make your records really useful they should always include, as a minimum, four key pieces of information. These are are sometimes referred to as ‘the four W’s.

The Four W's

What you saw

The name of the species you are recording. Please be as precise as you can – reporting a woodpecker is fine, but letting us know if it is a Great Spotted Woodpecker or a Green Woodpecker is much better. But even

Where you saw it

Describe the location where you saw it, being as precise as you can. An Ordnance Survey grid reference (or even a postcode in urban areas) can help to pinpoint the location. See our grid reference page for help on grid references.

When you saw it

Give the date as precisely as you can. Ideally this would be day, month and year but even something more vague (summer 2006, some time in 2005) is fine.

Who you are

Your name, along with the name of the person who identified your record if it wasn’t you.

Whilst all records should include the above details, you may also be able to provide additional information too. How many did you see? Could you tell if it was male or female, adult or young? Did you see the species or did you detect it from its signs (e.g. feathers/fur, tracks/prints, a burrow or sett, a nest or eggs)? Was it alive or dead (e.g. road casualty)?

Most important of all, if you are unsure of the identity of a species, don’t just guess but be honest about what you know. Try to get someone to help to identify it for you. There are a number of local groups and county recorders who have expertise in a particular species group, or you can simply contact us for help. If you have photographs these can often be very useful in helping to identify the species – you can send it via email or even post it on our Facebook page, and there are some excellent Facebook groups and forums who will assist recorders with identification. If in doubt, don’t submit your record without checking it with someone else.

Take a look at our grid references page if you would like more help with grid references.

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