Young Wildlife Recorders
Schools and community groups incorporated wildlife recording and submitting records to the local biological records centre (NESBReC) into existing outdoor learning initiatives.
Engaging young people to value wildlife
The Young wildlife recorders project, funded by Vattenfall Clashindarroch Community Fund, piloted the engagement of young people in wildlife recording.
2018 marked Scotland’s Year of Young People, so provided an ideal opportunity to focus on engaging young people in observing, recording and valuing the wildlife around them.
We selected one primary (Largue), one secondary (The Gordon schools) and one community group (BIN ranger group) in the Huntly area to enable us to determine the effectiveness of resource materials and activities for the different age groups in a range of settings.
The activities varied with each group but covered elements of the following:
- An introduction to biological recording and NESBReC. Sessions saw children recording what they were seeing in a wildlife recording booklet (pic) with their group, at home and when out and about at the weekend. After a few weeks, the children become ambassadors for wildlife recording and recruited a family member or friend to get involved.
- Camera trapping, where pupils learnt how camera traps can increase our knowledge of animal distribution and behaviour, positioning of the camera traps and how the Small mammal camera can be used to capture images of small mammals up close.
- Recording pollinators and discussing the importance of pollinators for many of the foods we eat.
- Setting up of moth traps, where a light source is used to attract flying moths which are caught in the main body of the trap. The children checked the moth traps and were guided through how to identify moths. The moth trapping session was run jointly with an Aberdeenshire Council ranger.
Each group was supplied with a wildlife recording resource box which included two camera traps, ID guides and various equipment such as bug viewing pots, butterfly kits, mammal footprint tunnel. These will remain with the groups allowing continued use for many years to come.
Success and impact
Some young people were drawn to the camera trapping element and finding out what animals visited their local green space after dark, others took to the wildlife recording and wanted to share what they had seen and could now see the value of recording what they were observing.
A few highlights shone through the project. The BIN ranger club captured footage of a Pine marten on a camera trap attached to a tree and also on the small mammal camera trap. Another highlight was a young primary 3 pupil who proudly showed everyone that he had filled in half of his Wildlife recording booklet.
“Largue School has thoroughly enjoyed the input and expertise we have received from the NE Scotland Biodiversity Partnership. Our camera traps have recorded a number of different birds, insects and our favourite, a cheeky mouse who keeps dropping in past for a wee snack. Following our workshop on moths with Aberdeenshire Ranger Helen Rowes, we were able to identify different species of moths, including a number which were not previously thought to live in this area. We were delighted to have been chosen for this project. It has helped us to explore and study the wildlife on our doorstep. We are extremely grateful to all concerned for affording us the opportunity to be part of this initiative. We look forward to continuing to record and observe the wildlife in our local environment.” Testimonial from Largue School Head Teacher, Hazel McIntosh
The wildlife records acquired during the project and going forward will make a real contribution to the regions’ knowledge and will hopefully have inspired young people to observe wildlife in their local green spaces and the value of their observations.
How to get involved
Although this project was a small pilot, we would love to expand the project geographically and to get wildlife recording embedded in Eco-schools. Any young people can of course get involved and submit their records to NESBReC.
Independent Member at NESBiP