City Nature Challenge: Species to Spot | Citizen Science

There are so many ways to take part in City Nature Challenge it can be difficult to know where to start if you are new to observing nature. Observations of any living things count towards City Nature Challenge but here are six species that Museum scientists and friends are particularly interested in. If you see any of these let us know by taking a photograph and uploading to iNaturalist. Photographs and identification tips are also available as a downloadable Species to Spot guide (PDF 330KB). 

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Take the City Nature Challenge! | Citizen Science

The City Nature Challenge returns to London for a fourth year! 

Over the last year many of us have had the chance to explore our local areas like never before. What have you spotted on your daily walks? Have you seen plants popping up in unexpected places, or is there a particular tree that you have watched transform through the seasons, or an unusual insect you have observed in your nearest park? 

Whatever it is, we want you to share what you have seen and join this year’s City Nature Challenge. 

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Thanks for taking part in the Plant Club BioBlitz! | Citizen Science

A big thank you to everyone who took part in the Plant Club BioBlitz! Over two weeks we made 725 observations of 313 species across the UK. We had observations from car parks in Portsmouth, pavements in Leeds and London, people’s gardens, and even clifftops in Cornwall and the Outer Hebrides. You can view all our observations on iNaturalist.

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Discover plants near you with the Plant Club BioBlitz!

Sometimes plants can be easy to miss. But when we take time to look a little closer, we see how exciting and important they really are!  

As part of the Museum’s Family Festival, the Citizen Science Team invite you to join the Plant Club virtual BioBlitz, to take a closer look at plants and discover which grow near you. Look closely at the shapes and textures of leaves and flowers and use the resources on our BioBlitz webpage to help you to tell different plants apart. 

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Highlights from City Nature Challenge 2020 | Citizen Science

Speckled wood butterfly

What were your highlights from the City Nature Challenge this year? Although I missed taking part in a public BioBlitz at the Natural History Museum, I enjoyed my own mini BioBlitz in my little London garden – making 99 observations and managing to identify 80 different species. My favourite find was a tiny Bethylid wasp which was the first one I have ever seen. These wasps are just a few millimetres long and are known as ‘flat wasps’ because of their squashed appearance. They are parasitoids of beetle larvae or moth caterpillars.

Bethylidae wasp
The Bethylid wasp I found, too tiny to do justice with my camera. Photograph by VJ Burton.

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City Nature Challenge 2020 results | Citizen Science

Summary of UK City Nature Challenge 2020

Thank you from the citizen science team!

A big thank you to everyone who took part in the City Nature Challenge: London this year! Despite lockdown restrictions London exceeded last year’s records, making 5,732 nature observations between 24 – 27 April and identifying 1,069 species. The London team were particularly happy to see nearly twice as many people taking part this year – a total of 542 of observers. You can view all the observations made at the City Nature Challenge: London iNaturalist project page.

Results summary from City Nature Challenge: London 2020

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Bee-flies are back! | Citizen Science

Have you seen any bee-flies in your garden? Bee-flies look rather like bees but are actually true flies (Diptera). They have round, furry bodies and a long proboscis (tongue) held out straight. The proboscis can sometimes cause alarm but they do not bite or sting and just use it to drink nectar from spring flowers, often while hovering. Flowers with long nectar tubes such as primroses and lungworts are particular favourites, and bee-flies are likely to be important pollinators of these.

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Bee-fly feeding from a primrose flower. Photo by Vlad Proklov, via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

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Wildlife Garden Autumn BioBlitz|Citizen Science

Photograph of a landhopper, Arcitalitrus dorrieni

A BioBlitz is a race against the clock to find and record as many living things as possible within a specific area over a set period of time. These observations are then used for scientific research and environmental monitoring by our wildlife garden managers and are shared with scientists in the UK and abroad. Our Autumn BioBlitz in the Wildlife Garden was on the 21st October, we had typical autumn weather with a lot of rain, but still saw interesting wildlife.

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Meeting the South-East Citizen Science community | Citizen Science

The Citizen Science team hosted the 2nd South-East Citizen Science Meetup at the Angela Marmont Centre last Friday. As an effort to bring together researchers and practitioners in the field, the ExCiteS research group (UCL) had held the first Citizen Science meetup in London back in January 2019, as part of the Doing It Together Science (DITOs) project. The informal concept of meetups brought together a wide range of citizen science expertise and so we decided to host the next meet up at the Natural History Museum. 

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