Nottingham records thousands of wildlife observations in international nature competition

Nottingham was the smallest city that took part, but held its own, recording the most observations, species and observers per square kilometre.
City Nature Challenge species finding

Martin Willis of the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trusts City Local Group during the City Nature Challenge

Between Friday 24th and Monday 27th April, nature enthusiasts from across Nottingham took part in the City Nature Challenge, an annual event documenting nature and helping residents and professionals alike to better understand urban biodiversity.

Over one hundred people took part in Nottingham’s first entry into the competition, which was organised by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust City Local Group and Ignite!, with support from Nottingham City Council and the National Biodiversity Network. Nature spotters took to their back gardens, allotments, ponds and sheds to use the mobile app iNaturalist to record the urban wildlife that is usually overlooked.

Over 2700 observations were made by over 100 observers in Nottingham city over the weekend, including 673 different species. Out of the ten areas across the UK that took part, Birmingham topped the table for the number of observations and species and Bristol and Bath had the most number of observers. Nottingham was the smallest city that took part, but held its own, recording the most observations, species and observers per square kilometre.

City Nature Challenge bug hunt

The Kennedy daughters on their garden bug hunt during the City Nature Challenge.

The most common recordings were of blackbirds, cow parsley and herb robert, regularly spotted at this time of year, but there were also some more unusually named species, such as a zebra jumping spider and farinose cartilage lichen. There was also one photograph of a European Orchard Bee, a solitary bee which was first recorded in the south east of Britain in 2017, and which could be the first time one has been spotted in Nottingham.

Martin Willis from the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust said,

We’re really pleased with the response to our first every entry into the City Nature Challenge. Records were uploaded from all over the city, with photographs of birds, plants, fungi, insects and mammals, celebrating the rich biodiversity of our city
Martin Willis, City Local Group
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

The original plans for public events and work with local schools, supported by the Heritage Lottery, had to be postponed because of the lockdown, but the organisers transformed the competition into something people could do at home.

“In stressful and uncertain times like these, we see that connecting with nature is something that helps our wellbeing and mental health, as well as being something that we can learn about with our children about while they’re away from school”.

The City Nature Challenge originally began as a competition between San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2016, and has now grown into an international competition with over 200 cities taking part. Whilst the majority of public events were not able to go ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic, over 41,000 people still look part worldwide, recording over 800,000 observations and 32,000 species. The recordings made as part of the City Nature Challenge will enable researchers to better understand changes in biodiversity.