Compiling Records


A simple biological record is made up of four parts:

What - the name of the species
Where - the place
When - the date
Who - the person who made the observation

For the record to be included in the database, the information provided must be accurate; a record should, therefore, contain the following information:

  • The scientific name of the animal or plant - many species have common names, but to avoid confusion please try to include the scientific name
  • The name of the place and the Ordnance Survey map grid reference - this will enable us to locate the exact site where the species was observed
  • The date - preferably day/month/year, but month/year is acceptable
  • Your name and contact details - if you have asked another person to confirm your identification (a determiner), we will need their name and contact details

Biological records often include other information: age and sex; numbers; habitat; behaviour and method e.g. field observation or trapped, photographed, these details are very useful, but not essential.

Traditionally a notebook is used to record wildlife observations, although some recorders prefer to use a printed record sheet and more are using electronic devices such as smart phones or tablets. Whichever method you choose it is important to ensure that all the key pieces of information are recorded for each observation. To give an accurate location you will need an Ordnance Survey map and/or a hand-held GPS (geographical positioning system). A digital camera is also useful for taking photographs of unfamiliar species.

We prefer records to be send to us by e-mail. To minimise transcription errors, recorders are encouraged to enter their records into a spreadsheet or to use biological recording software such as MapMate or Recorder. This makes the process of incorporating your records into the Outer Hebrides Biological Records database much easier and reduces the risk of errors. We accept records in the following formats:

  • Excel (xls or xlsx) spreadsheets
  • Text delimited files e.g. csv files
  • Recorder 6 export files
  • MapMate export files
  • If you have records in another format please contact us.

An Excel spreadsheet template, Recording Forms and Guidance Notes can be downloaded from the Biological Recordingsection of the Documents page.