Take part in a long-term study of wildlife in the West of England

9th May 2023

Taking part in a wildlife monitoring scheme can help scientists to understand how our wildlife is doing across the West of England. 

If you are able to commit to taking part in a long-term wildlife study, here is a list of monitoring schemes which you can take part in. The following list of schemes support data collection which can be used in the Bristol Wildlife Index - a key action of the Bristol One City Ecological Emergency Strategy. Many schemes provide full training or support from a local coordinators, so please check out their websites below for more details and how sign up.


Bristol Otter Survey - Greater Bristol Otter Group Surveying for signs of otter activity in Greater Bristol.

Living with Mammals - PTES A short weekly survey in which to record record the mammals that you see each week and any signs they might leave behind, such as droppings or footprints.

Water Vole Monitoring - PTES To take part you will need to survey one 500m length of riverbank at an allocated site once a year, usually between 15th April and 15th June, and ideally continue to monitor it each year. Full guidance will be given, please see the website for more information. 

Harvest Mouse Survey - The Mammal Society The National Harvest Mouse Survey runs from October to March each year. Surveys do not take long and no prior experience or specialist equipment is required to carry them out. 

Roost Count - Bat Conservation Trust - Count bats as they emerge from a roost on at least two evenings from late May. See website for more details.

Waterway Survey - Bat Conservation Trust Monitoring activity of Daubenton's bats along a waterway twice in August. You will need a heterodyne (tuneable) bat detector and a torch.

Field Survey - Bat Conservation Trust Help to find out how noctule, serotine, common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle are faring across the UK. Visit a site on two evenings in July. 

British Bat Survey - Bat Conservation Trust New citizen science survey using passive acoustic monitoring to increase our understanding of bats across Great Britain. It involves deploying sound recorders into the field for a certain length of time to monitor wildlife and their acoustic surroundings. You can survey a 1km square, using an AudioMoth audio recorder from the BBS volunteer portal. See website for more info. 


National Plant Monitoring Scheme This survey was designed and developed by the BSBI, UKCEH, Plantlife and the JNCC. To take part, you will be randomly allocated a convenient 1km square to visit. The visit involves recording plant ‘indicator species’ in plots. Within your 1km square you will record around 5 plots in semi-natural habitats. Please see the website for more information. 

Bristol Plant Monitoring Scheme An exciting opportunity to get involved with a new local plant monitoring scheme, which will collect valuable information on the wildlife found in Bristol’s parks and green spaces. This will help us to learn more about the distribution of different plant species, monitor the condition of habitats and guide suitable management practices. Please see the document linked for more information.


RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch UK’s biggest citizen science wildlife survey - an annual survey of garden birds that takes place during the last weekend of January each year. 

Garden BirdWatch - British Trust for Ornithology Spend a minimum of 20 minutes each week recording the birds that visit your garden.

Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) - British Trust for Onithology WeBS monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK. Requires one visit per month, preferably on the Sunday Core Count priority date (please see website for more details).

Breeding Bird Survey (BBS)- British Trust for Ornithology BBS monitors the population changes of 118 breeding bird species across the UK thanks to the dedication of almost 3,000 volunteers who survey their randomly selected 1-km square each spring. You will need to undertake three site visits between April and June and be able to identify UK breeding birds by sight, song and call.

Waterways Breeding Bird Survey (WBBS) - British Trust for Ornithology An annual survey of breeding birds along rivers and canals. You will need to undertake three site visits between April and June and be able to identify UK breeding birds by sight, song and call.

Avon Winter Bird Survey - British Trust for Ornithology A local survey on Winter birds in the Avon area. Please contact Avon BTO representative Dave Stoddard for more info at dave.stoddard@tiscali.co.uk


Bugs Matter - Buglife Record the squashed bugs on a number plate from any journey you make in a vehicle between 1st June to 31st August.

Flower-Insect Timed Counts. PoMS FIT Counts - UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme Spend ten minutes watching flowers and insects in good weather! This simple survey collects data on the total number of insects that visit a particular flower, ideally chosen from a list of 14 target flowers. FIT Counts can be done anywhere, including gardens and parks, in warm, dry weather during daylight hours from 1 April to 30 September.

Bee Walk - Bumblebee Conservation Trust BeeWalkers walk a fixed monitoring route (a transect) once a month between March and October inclusive, recording the abundance of each bumblebee species seen, and submitting this data via the BeeWalk website.

UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme - Butterfly Conservation One of the longest running insect monitoring schemes in the world. It involves recording all UK butterflies seen along a transect that is walked weekly for at least 5 consecutive years.

Garden Butterfly Survey - Butterfly Conservation Record the butterflies in your garden or allotment plot - You can survey your garden all year round, as often as you like. Please see the website for more info. 

Anglers' Riverfly Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) - Riverfly Partnership A way for Anglers and local community groups to contribute data to help monitor the health of the watercourses they fish and live near by recording species such as Mayfly, Stonefly, and Caddisfly. Please see the website for more details.

Bristol Avon Rivers Trust Riverfly Monitoring BART run several training sessions a year for Riverfly Monitoring. For more information, or if you would like to become a Riverfly Monitor, please email Jess at jess@bristolavonriverstrust.org to be added to their trainee list.

Reptiles and amphibians

Dragon Watch - Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Herpetofauna (reptile and amphibian) survey for gardens. Survey can take 10 mins and repeat as often as you like.

National Amphibian Survey Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) Monitoring amphibian populations across the UK.  you will need good amphibian identification skills and some experience of observing amphibians in the field. Requires 4 site visits between 1st January and 31st March.

National Reptile Survey - Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) You will need good reptile identification skills and some experience of observing reptiles in the field. Requires 6 visits; 4 between March‒June, and 2 mid-August‒October.


Where to record

If you would like to set up some long term monitoring transects, Bristol City Council are looking for monitoring volunteers who can monitor the wildlife in Bristol’s Parks. If you are interested in monitoring wildlife here, please get in contact with Nature.parks@bristol.gov.uk

Likewise, if you are doing the survey in a Bristol park, please do share your records with Nature.parks@bristol.gov.uk directly as well as the national schemes, where possible. 

Recording wildlife outside of monitoring schemes

If you have seen a one-off sighting of a species that you would like to record, you can do this with your Local Environmental Records Centre (LERC). In the West of England you can find our LERC here: Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre

For more citizen science and wildlife monitoring projects outside of Bristol, you can check out this page on the Natural History Museum's website.