Quantocks Wildlife Watch Launched

Friends of Quantock have joined forces with the Quantock Hills AONB and Quantock Landscape Partnership Scheme and have launched the biggest wildlife survey ever attemped on the Quantocks.  This large scale citizen science project will see all visitors able to record and log what species they see to feed into a number of projects that will help inform future plans and projects to support the conservation of the wildlife of the Quantocks.

The project will use the iNaturalist application which is one of the most popular wildlife applications worldwide.  Users simply photograph what they see, upload it to iNaturalist which will suggest what species it believes it to be, together with some alternatives for review if it doesn’t seem quite right, then it is logged as an observation with the photographs taken and the exact location seen. The application can be used to identify any living thing; animals, plants, fungi, insects, lichen etc and is also a great way for learning more about what it is you are seeing.  You needn’t worry about whether your identification is correct as there is an online iNaturalist community that will look at the photographs and verify or suggest an alternative identification before your observation becomes ‘research grade’.

The great news is that all this information is then freely available to everyone. So if you have a particular interest in butterflies you can use the mapping to see where might be the best spots for seeing what, or if you would really likely to see a particular plant species that has been recorded – again the map can show you where it was seen. You can take a look at some of the fantastic sightings already recorded within the project here.

We hope to get as many people as possible recording what they see as over time as this will provide valuable insight into what species there are on and around the Quantocks, how we might best manage the land to support them and how things might also change over time. We hope it might also give insight into the impacts of things too, whether that is use of pesticides on adjacent land, swailing or other land management activities. The more people we have making more observations the more valuable the information will become.

A recent example of exactly how the information can be useful was the identification of skunk cabbage, an invasive species starting to appear in a combe near Holford. The AONB rangers were able to use the information to locate where it was and take swift action to remove 8 plants that had already appeared.

Another fantastic observation identified a brown hairstreak butterfly, a species never before recorded on the Quantocks! There are lots of species on the Quantocks we know very little about, and some we probably do not even know are there, but this project will give us a real insight.

To find out more about how to join up and start recording your own observations have a look at our Quantocks Wildlife Watch page.  

By working together we can collect the information to help us make the right decisions on the future conservation priorities for the Quantocks and protect them for generations to come.