What do we record?

What we record, images by Mike Toms

These are just some of the many species we record for GBW.

Although the main focus of Garden BirdWatch is on recording the bird species that visit and use gardens, we also collect weekly records for a number of other types of animal. There are two main reasons for this; first, our community of 'citizen scientists' is ideally placed to collect such information, generating useful records that can be used by our researchers and by those specialising in other taxa. Second, we found that our participants really wanted to contribute additional records of the other species that they were seeing in their gardens.

The bird recording remains our core focus and each year we receive records from roughly 9,000 British and Irish gardens. Given that our community numbers some 15,000 garden birdwatchers, it is clear that some choose to support us without wishing to submit counts. It is great that we are able to involve a wider community in the project.

The following table provides some background information on the different species that we monitor through our weekly Garden BirdWatch recording. We tested the recording of non-avian species in 2001 and launched the recording of certain mammals, butterflies, reptiles and amphibians in 2003, bringing these other taxa fully in line with the standard recording in 2007. In order to show the relative contribution of the different taxa the table shows the submissions made in 2001. This shows, for example, that butterfly records were received from 46% of our active sites, generating 148,781 records of 46 different species. Hummingbird Hawk-Moth is recorded alongside the butterflies, while Hornet, Stag beetle and Cockchafer are recorded alongside the bumblebees in this table.

Species group Year Started Records in 2011 Sites in 2011 Number of species in 2011
Birds 1995 4,678,000 8,864 (100%) 185
Mammals 2003 [2007]* 301,369 5,769 (65%) 43
Reptiles & Amphibians 2003 [2007]* 42,775 3,029 (34%) 13
Butterflies 2003 [2007]* 148,781 4,065 (46%) 46
Bumblebees, etc. 2007 59,345 2,589 (29%) 28
Dragonflies/Damselflies 2011 6,733 937 (11%) 32

This table shows the different groups we record, the year we started recording them and (by way of comparison) the numbers of records, sites and species recorded in 2011

The data collected through the survey is used in many different ways, including for the production of scientific papers that inform our understanding and support conservation advice. We also share our data with other organisations. For example, the bumblebee data are passed to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and our dragonfly records are feeding into the British Dragonfly Society's new atlas project. We also provide data to other researchers and individuals.