Taking part in a citizen science project can make a real and lasting contribution to our understanding of the environment, and the impacts of human activity and the changing climate. There are loads of projects to choose from – some are open all year round and others take place at a set time each year.
You could make your observations during a session, camp or trip, or you could ask the group to collect them oer a period of time and bring them together to discuss and share.
Some projects that you could get involved with include:
Big Garden Birdwatch (RSPB)
This takes place annually, usually around the last weekend in January.
1. Find a place to watch the birds from. Most people sit inside and watch birds in their garden through the window. 2. Watch the birds for one hour.
3. Record the maximum number of each species you saw at any time – so if you see a group of 5 house sparrows together, then later on you see 3, the number you record is 5 so that you don’t double count any birds.
4. Visit the Big Garden Birdwatch page and submit your records. Even if you didn’t see anything, this information is still valuable.
Great Eggcase Hunt (The Shark Trust)
You can record eggcases that you find washed up on the beaches all year round.
1. If you have a day at the beach, look out for shark or ray eggcases, often called ‘mermaid purses’.
2. If you find any, take a photo (with something like a coin to show the size) and record where you found it (GPS or a Grid reference)
3. Check on the website for the ID guides to find out what sort of eggcase you found.
4. Record this on The Great Eggcase Hunt page.
Project Splatter (Cardiff University)
Analysing Roadkill can help understand animal populations, but also show where tunnels or warning signs on the road network could protect nature.
1. Keep a lookout for roadkill on any road trip, walk or cycle ride.
2. Record what you saw, with a rough location – if you can’t identify the species a roupgh description will do, or you can report a UFO (unidentified furry / feathered object).
3. Share your sightings with the research team via their website.
Take it Further
Your group may be keen to follow up on the research the was conducted with the data that they collect – but you could also share what has been learned from other citizen science projects, particularly those that have been running for some time:
You could also do something to support the population of the plants / animals that you have been observing, like making bat / bird boxes, or planting polinator-friendly wildflowers.