Great Somerset Wildlife Count launches to track wildlife and habitat trends and help reverse nature's decline

Take part on October 17th and 18th - you can help make wildlife count!

Somerset Wildlife Trust is pleased to announce a joint community science initiative with the Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC) called The Great Somerset Wildlife Count.

The initiative aims to monitor changes in both the diversity (the variety) and the abundance (the quantity) of wildlife species we have across the county, which in turn will helps track the health of the ecosystems that exist to support them - which are coming under increasing pressure from development and changes in our climate.

  
The organisations hope that with the public as their eyes and ears on the ground, collecting and feeding in important wildlife data and information, they will have greater visibility of wildlife under threat and be better able to create conservation solutions to address areas where there is the most urgent need. 

Goldfinch

There’ll be a count in each season and the first autumn count takes place on October 17th and 18th,, focusing on the common frog, the European hedgehog, redwing, honey fungus, the painted lady butterfly, and the goldfinch. The two organisations are urging members of the public to look out for these species over this weekend, and record when and where they spot them on the recording website.  

All of this data will also be fed into a new Somerset County Council initiative called the Somerset State of Nature, which ensures that county-led decisions can be made with wildlife in mind.

Simon Clarke, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Head of Conservation Policy & Biodiversity says “SERC currently holds over 3 million records, but the majority of these are about protected or rare species mostly within higher quality habitats.  There's a gap in our knowledge about how the more 'common' species are doing on a wider scale across the county. At the moment, we can’t tell with certainty what's happening to species we perceive as still being relatively abundant, such as goldfinches or frogs - and that's a real concern.

“There's a phrase that describes that concern - shifting baselines. It's where, over time, knowledge is lost about the natural world and as a result our perception of nature or species decline becomes more and more out of sync with the reality of the situation.  We hope that the Great Somerset Wildlife Count will help us increase and grow that knowledge so we can identify ways to protect species before we lose them forever.”

Leon DeBell, Somerset Environmental Records Centre Manager, says “Having the data to understand the health of our environment through trends in diversity and abundance of wildlife here in Somerset is vital. During the pandemic we know that people have opened their eyes to nature and wildlife - whether on their doorstep or in their local green space - so this is a brilliant way to extend and nurture that nature connection and, at a time where so many more people are now asking, “what can I do to make a difference”, it’s something simple to do that really can make a difference. Whether you are on your way to school, work, in a local green space with the dog, or with the kids at half term, record the wildlife you see and help make nature count!“

Common frog

How to get involved

Join in and together we can help make nature count!  

 

  • Visit The Great Somerset Wildlife Count webpage
  • Download the PDF guide onto your mobile device if you need to, to remind yourself of the six species to look for
  • During the whole of the weekend of the 17th and 18th October, record the species you manage to spot in that time 
  • Tell us where you were when you saw them, and how many of each species you saw here 
  • You can record the location any way you like - drop a Google pin, use a Grid Reference, use what3words or just enter a normal address
  • That's it - you’ve just contributed to our data about wildlife trends in Somerset!

Let us know what you find on social by tagging @SomersetWT and @somersetERC and using the hashtag #greatsomersetwildlifecount when out on your travels!