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Survey of ecological consultants

a screengrab of GCER's recent online survey

Like many LERCs, GCER is looking to increase its online presence to offer more services for data users. Back in April we contacted ecological consultants who regularly use our data searches, to find out what they feel about this and how we might improve our outputs. We are grateful to the 27 consultants who took the time to answer the detailed Survey Monkey questionnaire which asked a range of questions about our current and potential data searches. Some of the findings:

  • all but one of the 27 respondents had used other LERCs as well as GCER
  • half (52%) have used online data search forms and outputs as well as printed or emailed results
  • 3 respondents often used online payments for searches and 3 occasionally - but the majority have never paid directly online
  • around one quarter (26%) had never got data directly from the National Biodiversity Network, but over a third had (36%), at least for species data
  • GCER's "answers to general queries", "data analysis" and "interpretation" services were less-often used, but all scored as "good" or "excellent"
  • "species lists", "maps" and "standard data search reports" were used by most of the respondents and were mostly graded as "good" or "excellent", but some thought these services to be "patchy" in usefulness, especially the printed maps.

The general response was positive, with several consultants praising Rob's helpfulness and prompt response to queries. We got lots of valuable constructive comments, particularly about how online services could be useful - and how not - and how the tricky task of mapping species records might be improved.

Many thanks to everyone who did this survey - it's much appreciated. The results will help us to develop a better service with the limited resources available.

Box Wood Bioblitz 13th-14th May

Bioblitz survey forms and pawprint tracks from hedgehog tunnels

From midday on Saturday 13th to midday on Sunday 14th May members of the Stroud Wildlife Survey Group joined GCER's Biodiversity Information Officer, Rob, and Gloucestershire Naturalists' Trust recorders to undertake a 24-hour “bioblitz” of Box Wood. The aim was to record as many species of flora and fauna as possible to build up a baseline of data on this newly-acquired GWT reserve. Activities included mammal-trapping and bat-detecting as well as field survey for plants and animals.

Over 350 birds, plants, fungi, invertebrates, lichens and mammals were recorded. The weather was mostly nice and the good villagers of Box turned up both to join in and to share their excellent village hall catering. Many thanks to Box community for their hospitality, which helped to make the day special. Highlights included finding badger pawprints in the "hedgehog tunnels" (badgers are too curious to resist these!), and an exotic-looking Snakefly - a rarely-recorded, distant relative of lacewings. Many thanks to everyone who took part.

National Biodiversity Network becomes the NBN Atlas

the new NBN Atlas

From 1st April the National Biodiversity Network Gateway is no more, replaced by the NBN Atlas. Based on the pilot Atlas of Living Scotland website, the new Atlas format aims to improve on the familiar (but sometimes rather confusing) NBN Gateway.

For several years GCER has been a Data Provider for the NBN, uploading hundreds of thousands of records at a "public" resolution of 1km grid squares. Anyone could log onto the NBN Gateway and access the data, although they needed to get in touch with GCER if more detailed data access was required.

The new Atlas website differs from the old Gateway in several ways:

  • more mobile-friendly and appealing design
  • showcases Data Providers and recording schemes
  • offers new data analysis and other useful features
  • no built-in system for getting more detailed access

Users of the Atlas will need to contact Data Providers directly if they require a higher resolution dataset; all data will be available "as provided" except "sensitive" species, for which the public resolution will automatically be blurred to protect vulnerable species. The vast majority of records, however, will be available at the full resolution they were provided with. GCER will be updating - and adapting, if necessary - all our datasets to make best use of the new format. A full new set of data will be available at the beginning of May.

Online hedgehog survey passes the 1500 records mark!

Seen a Hedgehog logo

Update!
GCER's online hedgehog survey forms were launched in July 2015, and have since attracted over 1500 hedgehog sightings, logged by over 1000 GWT members, staff and many members of the public not previously involved with wildlife surveys. The huge popularity of hedgehogs, plus their relative tameness compared with other wild mammals (most of which are never seen by the public) has resulted in an incredible response. In the first thousand sightings, 1293 individuals were recorded, including many families with baby and half-grown hedgehogs. There were also useful records of places where hedgehogs had been looked for, but not seen.

A big Thank You to everyone who has contributed so far - please keep the records coming!

Happy New Year!

early hazel catkins

Happy New Year and all the best for 2017 from GCER to all our supporters, data users and colleagues!

2017 brings a new website for GCER, enabling us to start developing new and better online mapping and recording.

Updates to GCER's online map

clip from GCER's online map

Our handy "double map", based on Bedfordshire Natural History Society's popular Grab a Grid Reference tool, has been updated to the latest version of Google Maps. It's still the same to use the map: drag the red marker to where you want a grid reference, or move the map and click Get the marker. A range of different grid reference options, e.g. tetrads, are displayed below.

In addition to reading off grid references, you can view a range of map outlines specific to Gloucestershire by ticking the boxes underneath the Google map. The Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust nature reserves layer has also been updated: it now includes outlines of the new reserves at Crickley Hill, Kilkenny, Barrow Wake, Cooper's Hill and Coaley Peak.