How to observe wildlife: iRecord

Matt Hayes, research assistant, takes us through how to record the wildlife we see using iRecord:

What is iRecord?
iRecord is a website for sharing wildlife observations.

What does iRecord do?
Its goal is to make it easier for wildlife sightings to be collected, checked by experts and made available to support research and decision-making.

How do I add my wildlife sightings?
You can register for free and once you’re logged in, you can add your own biological records and images for other to see, as well as look what other people have recorded.
Experts can review your sightings and the information can then be shared with other users and will be made available to National Recording Schemes, and Local Record Centres.


In this guide we will take you through the steps of registering for an account, taking part in a specific iRecord event and uploading your wildlife sightings:

iRecord registration and upload instructions

Sign up for an account using an internet browser on your phone or computer.

  • Follow the link: https://www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/user/register
  • Put in your details (username, email, password, confirm password, first name, last name and tick agree with terms) and then click ‘create new account’.
  • If you are under 16 years old, you can still create an account. Just be sure to tick the ‘Under 16’ box when signing up.
  • A confirmation email will be sent to you to activate your account. Access the email and follow the link within to confirm the details you gave were correct.

Join Zoology Live 2020 so you can start adding your wildlife sightings to it.

  • Login to iRecord: https://www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/
  • On the homepage look for the menu option called ‘Activities’. This will either be visible at the top of the page or you will have to click on ‘main menu’ to see a drop-down list and then select it.
  • Click ‘Browse all activities’ and type in Zoology. Then click the ‘go’ button.
  • You should see that ‘Zoology Live 2020’ comes up. To the right there is a column called ‘Actions’, which contains a button with a star on it. Click the star.
  • This will take you to a new page where it will ask if you want to join the event. Click the button ‘join’. Zoology Live 2020 should now be added to your activities.
  • Any time you login to iRecord you can click the ‘Activities’ tab on the homepage and view Zoology Live 2020 by selecting ‘My activities’.

Alternatively, once you have created an iRecord account you can follow the link below to take you to the Zoology Live 2020 event page. Click the ‘join’ button to add the event to your activities and feel free to share the link with others: https://www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/join/zoology-live-2020

Upload a wildlife recording using an internet browser.

The best way to start is to take a photograph of the species you have seen. You can then upload them with your records and people can verify your sightings.

  • Go to ‘My activities’ on the activities page on iRecord. If you have joined the event you will see Zoology Live 2020 listed here.
  • Under the ‘links’ column, click on the button ‘Submit records for any species you have seen’.
  • This will take you to the ‘what did you see’ tab. First, enter the date of the recording and the name of the recorder.
  • Then for each species you have seen you can add a separate entry. In the first column ‘species’, you can start typing in either the English or Latin species name. A drop-down list of close matches appears, and you can choose from these options to select the right species. This can be helpful if you only know the common name.
  • If you are not sure which species you have found you can enter your best guess and then in the ‘certainty’ column change the dropdown menu to ‘uncertain’. If you are sure about your species id then keep this listed as ‘certain’.
  • If you do not know the specific species but do know a higher classification, like ‘butterfly’ or ‘insect’, you can write these more general identifiers in the ‘species’ column instead.
  • In the column ‘quantity’ you can write how many of each species you have seen. If you know it, you can also record the sex and life stage of the species by filling in the columns ‘sex’ and ‘stage’. For example, you may know that you have found an adult, female butterfly.
  • If you have any extra information you can add this in the column ‘comments’.
  • Finally, you can click the ‘add images’ button to browse for and upload the specimen images you have taken.
  • A new row will now appear if you would like to add records for more species. Simply repeat the process until you have added all your records.
  • Now click the ‘Where was it’ tab. This allows you to record where you found the species. First, under ‘location’ you can write where the species was spotted. For example, you may write: Sheep’s Green, Cambridge.
  • Then you need to enter a ‘spatial reference’, which will allow your records to be displayed on a map.
  • If you already know a spatial reference for your record location (such as a British National Grid square) then you can enter this information under ‘Enter a spatial reference’.
  • Alternatively, you can search for the name of a location and choose from a list. Under the heading ‘Or search for a place on the map’ type in the location, click the ‘search’ button and select the correct location from the list.
  • The third and final method is to use the map on the right of the screen to manually select the record location. Use the plus and minus arrows to zoom in and out and the arrows at the top left of the map to move around. Then, when you are happy you have found the right spot, click on that location on the map. The square area you have selected should be highlighted red.
  • Finally, under the ‘Habitat’ and ‘Overall comment’ headings you can select the type of habitat your species was found in from a drop-down list and add any final notes.
  • Click ‘submit’ and your record will be added to Zoology Live 2020.
  • If you have records from different locations you will need to fill in multiple upload forms.

Upload a wildlife recording using the iRecord phone app.

The best way to start is to take a photograph of the species you have seen. You can then upload them with your records and people can verify your sightings.

  • You can download the iRecord app from the ‘Google Play App Store’ on Android devices or the ‘App Store’ on Apple devices.
  • Once you have registered your account (see above for instructions) you can then open the app and login by entering your username and password.
  • Once you have joined the Zoology Live 2020 activity (see above for instructions) you can select the ‘Activities’ tab at the bottom of the screen. A list of the activities you have joined should be displayed. Click Zoology Live 2020 and a tick should appear next to it. Any recordings you make will now be added to this event.
  • Make sure the app can access your phone’s location so that your species records can be added to a map.
  • To add a new record, click the green plus button at the bottom of the app’s homepage.
  • Start typing in the species name and it will autocomplete with options for you to select. You can type in the English or Latin names. If you do not know the specific species but do know a higher classification, like ‘butterfly’ or ‘insect’, you can write these more general identifiers here instead.
  • When you have done this, a draft record entry will then be added to your ‘pending’ tab at the top of the homepage. You can click on a draft record to add in the rest of the data.
  • If you have allowed iRecord to use your phone’s location, some information will be autocompleted. If you click on ‘location’ you can then fill in the rest of the information. First, write the name of the record location at the top. For example, you may write: Sheep’s Green, Cambridge.
  • If the rest of the record location has not been filled in automatically you can select it on the map manually. You can move around the map in different directions by swiping with your finger and zoom in and out using the plus and minus buttons. When you are happy you have found the right spot, click the grid square closest to where you found your species and it should highlight red. You can click the green arrow in the top left of the screen to get back to the rest of your record’s data.
  • You can then select the ‘date’ the recording was made and add a ‘comment’ if you have some other useful information to include.
  • Zoology Live 2020 should already be listed under ‘Activity’.
  • Extra details can then be added, if they are known, under ‘abundance’, ‘stage’, ‘sex’ and ‘identifiers’. For example, these categories could record that 2 specimens of a species were seen, that both were adult males and that they were identified by John Smith.
  • Finally, at the bottom of the screen you can click the green camera icon to search through your phone and upload any pictures you take of the species you see.
  • When you are happy, go back to the overview of your record and click the ‘upload’ button in the top right of the screen.
  • Your record will now have been added to Zoology Live 2020

Following the Zoology Live 2020 event and viewing uploaded records.

  • Login to iRecord on an internet browser.
  • Go to ‘My activities’. If you have joined the event you will see Zoology Live 2020 listed here.
  • Under the ‘links’ column, click on the button ‘Zoology Live 2020 Summary: Click here for a map with all recordings’.
  • This will take you through to a map, where you can see the locations of all the species that have been recorded as part of the event. If you have uploaded any records these will be displayed here too.
  • Beneath the map there is a ‘Records’ tab. This will display all the information for the species that have been uploaded, including their name, where they were seen and who recorded them. This will allow you to find your own records and see what everyone else has found.
  • The tabs, ‘Species’, ‘Taxon Groups’ and ‘Families’ give a full list of all the species and higher classification groups (insects, amphibians, mammals etc) that have been recorded as part of the Zoology Live 2020 event.
  • Finally, the ‘photos’ tab will show a gallery of all the images that people have uploaded.

For more information on how to use iRecord please check out their guide on getting started: https://www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/how-do-i

If you would prefer to try out iRecord in training mode before posting real records, please see below: https://www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/training-mode


The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund is run by the Museums Association, funding projects that develop collections to achieve social impact.

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