What is Biological Recording?

Circle of Puffins
© Neil Copsey

A Biological Record is made up of four things:


The name of the animal or plant.

Many species have common names, but to avoid confusion please try to include the scientific name if you know it.


Location, as precisely as possible. This can be a bit tricky as the Channel Islands are not part of the UK Grid. There are lots of options including:

  1. Latitude/Longitude (preferred. Please specify what units you have used)
  2. Perry’s Guide reference
  3. UTM Grid (preferred by certain recording schemes like BWARS)
  4. what3words

If this is not possible, please provide a description, as accurate as possible, and include, where relevant, the name of the property or road concerned.

Recording Forms

Not sure where to start?

We have several recording forms you can download or complete online: 

Tool Kit


The date.

Preferably day/month/year, but month/year is also acceptable. 

For certain sightings knowing what time you saw something is helpful, for example when you saw a barn owl, or a dolphin, but it is not essential.


Your name and contact details. As the person who made the sighting, you are the Recorder. If you have asked another person to confirm your identification of the species, they are the Identifier and we will need their name and contact details.

Top Tip

The more specific the taxonomic classification, the better... but, only classify organisms to a level you're confident with. Taking photos is really helpful to confirm ID!

Identification Help

There are lots of websites, books, guides and apps to help you with species ID. Social media is a great resource. Click the icon to see a list of websites that can help. If there's anything missing let us know.

Other useful data

  1. How accurate is the location given, is it to within 10 m, 100 m or a kilometre?
  2. Who identified the species?
  3. How many of the animal or plant did you see? Was it a single individual, was it a flock of 100?
  4. Any other field notes about the record:
    1. What was the animal’s behaviour?
    2. What other species were present?
    3. What sex was it?
    4. Did you catch the animal or pick a voucher specimen of the plant, have you a photograph of it?