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Yesterday I went on a free training course, ‘An introduction to biological recording’, run by the friendly and extremely knowledgeable folk at SEWBReC, the South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre. The course was intended to introduce the participants to:

The basics of biological recording: what we need to record and why; and
How to turn wildlife sightings into biological records which will be used to protect, conserve and enhance the local environment.

I’m sold on the idea! I had already signed on to their system to record a couple of unusual things I had seen but, of course, we shouldn’t just record the unusual, we should record everything – or, at least, as much as we possibly can of what we can positively identify.

160216 SEWBReC course

Searching for specimens to practise recording

As course instructor and SEWBReC manager Adam Rowe explained, we won’t know if something previously thought of as plentiful is in danger unless we record it and thereby, over time, notice a decline in its numbers. He gave as an example the American Passenger pigeon which once numbered between 3 and 5 billion – yes, billion! – but became extinct upon the death of the last surviving bird, ‘Martha’, in 1914.

There are biological recording centres in most countries around the world these days so, if you enjoy the natural world around you, please consider doing your bit as a citizen scientist.