DEDICATION to data is what you need… if you want to be a record maker...

Not quite the same lyrics sung by Roy Castle in the 80s, but they could serve as a modern slogan today to support one of the most important goals in Somerset Wildlife Trust’s strategy!

The shocking outlook outlined in the 2019 UK State of Nature report left us in no doubt as to species decline in the UK. A report from Germany in the same year highlighted the apocalyptic decline in the abundance of insects. It was acknowledged that in focussing purely on species extinction, there was the risk that significant trends about the state of nature and more ‘common’ species could be missed over time.

Collecting meaningful species data is therefore of the utmost importance to build up a picture of what’s happening to biodiversity and abundance of wildlife on a county scale, so we can make the best decisions for nature’s recovery.

Where are we starting from? Our environmental records centre, Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC), currently holds over 2.5 million records of species present in Somerset. Most however are of protected or rare species and most are within higher quality habitats. There’s a gap in our knowledge about the numbers of more ‘common’ species such as hedgehogs, bumble bees and blackbirds. With the help of members and supporters and YOU the general public - and with the help of online recording platform iNaturalist - we aim to fill those gaps to track progress, inform us of what is present, where, and monitor changes that occur over time.

Last year we launched the Great Somerset Wildlife Count initiative – an annual calendar of citizen science activities that aims to help us do just that. We’ve just launched the Big Count as part of this initiative – a bumper species count from June 17 until 26 – where we are asking people to spot and count as many of our 12 species within a one-hour period in a day (you can do an hour every day if you want!)

So, when you are out on a walk, exploring your local green space, on school grounds, at work, on a nature reserve – anywhere – we need you to keep your eyes peeled for our special 12 and when you have spotted something we need you to log your sightings using the iNaturalist platform. Get your family involved, your neighbours, teachers and your employers – we need this data!

We know that over the past couple of years, people have opened their eyes to nature and wildlife –whether on their doorstep or in their local green space – so this is a brilliant way to extend and nurture that nature connection and, at a time where so many more people are now asking, “what can I do to make a difference”, it’s something simple to do that really can make a difference.

So check out the Big Count on the home page at, sign up to an iNaturalist account by downloading the app on a smartphone or visiting the iNaturalist website and get counting!

Written by Simon Clarke, Head of Nature Recovery, Somerset Wildlife Trust