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Introduction to the concept

What you will need

(includes a list of reference materials for identifying organisms)

How to record your observations

As part of the “Big Green Initiative” in 2021, it was suggested that we try to catalogue the species in and around Ilmington village. This project aims to enthuse and open the door for everyone who is interested and who might like to contribute to a community effort in recording what we all see around us. It uses current mobile technology to record locations of sightings with the objective of putting together an extensive and searchable data set. This will allow people to be part of generating a resource that can be used both to identify particular species of interest in the village and the surrounding area and track any changes in species richness through time.

This would build on a super body of work previously done in 1996-97 by Dr Ted Leafe, who has catalogued plant species present in the Humpty-Dumpty fields and Tinker’s Lane.

The idea is simple and depends on people making a record of any species they see and entering it onto the data sheet. The records are aimed at wild plant, animal and fungal species and can be made from anywhere in the village and the surrounding area. So it might be a good idea to try it out in your own back garden to begin with.

Ilmington Village Nature watch…. then…. now and the future…

inspired by the 20:20 vision for the village and surroundings

A) What you will need:-

  1. A pencil and paper / notebook

  2. Mobile phone / iPad

  3. The “what3words” app that can be downloaded free via

  4. A method for identifying the species that you are interested in. This can be achieved using a range of texts or apps.

a.  Plants : some useful books and apps:

i.  Green Guide  “Wild Flowers of Britain and Europe”. David Sutton (illustrated by Colin Emberson). ISBN 1-85368-162-8

ii.  The New Concise British Flora. W. Keble Martin (Mermaid Books). ISBN 0-7181-2700-5

iii.  Wild Flowers of Britain and Europe; Andrew Branson: Field Naturalist’s Library (Hamlyn pub group)  ISBN 0-600-57080-0

iv.  Field Studies Council Guide to Grassland Plants (

v.  Field Studies Council Guide to Grasses (

vi.  The wild flowers of Britain and Northern Europe. (Collins) R Fritter, A Fritter & M Blamey ISBN:  0 00-219069-09

vii.  Excursion Flora of the British Isles A Clapham, T Tutin & E Warburg (Cambridge University Press)

viii.  Picture this is an app that is available free to iPhone users (it is not android compatible) and colleagues say this works well. You can pay a subscription for an upgraded premium version without the adverts (

ix.  Plantsnap is available for Android devices, but has mixed reviews (

x.  Link to Botanical vocabulary used in plant identification:

b.  Other useful UK wildlife texts

i.  Collins complete British Wildlife a photoguide: Ed P Sterry. ISBN 0-583-33638-8

ii.  RSPB Pocket book of Birds a photographic guide. Eds J Elphick & J Woodward. ISBN 0-7513-3678-5

iii.  Field guide to the butterflies and other insects of Britain. (Reader’s Digest Nature Lover’s Library).ISBN 0-276-42505-7

iv.  Collins Gem photoguide to mushrooms and toadstools. (Harper Collins publ.) ISBN 0-00-470934-9

B) How to record your observations

  • Firstly, you will need to have access to the what3words app.

  • When you see and have identified your organism of interest, you need to record your location using the app. For example, today, I saw a comma butterfly in my back garden. I used the app with satellite view and recorded it on my notepad. A photo of the app screen is seen opposite and it shows a satellite view of my location in the back garden together with the unique three word location reference, which in this case was “landscape.guideline.offer” (always in lowercase). The app will allow you to enter any three word reference and find that location again when you want to and you can also use it to generate GPS coordinates should you wish to (using the ‘share' option on the menu at the bottom of the screen).

  • Once you have made a note of your three word location reference, make any other notes that you need about the food plant / microlocation of the organism as appropriate (e.g. what was the butterfly - in this case - on?). So I recorded that the butterfly was in my back garden on a sunflower.

  • Now you are ready to enter the information onto the data spreadsheet.

  • Click on the above link to open the data sheet. Once opened, you will see that there are several tabs along the bottom of the screen. If you want to add data for your observation of a species in your garden, then just click once on the tab named “Ilmington village and its gardens”

  • Then, just fill in the information for each column.

  • It is very important that you check your “what3words” location reference as a misspelt word can result in your record being from a different country :)

  • An image of a screenshot of the data recording sheet is below:-

  • If you have several species to add to the same sheet, then just fill in the next few rows.

  • If you have managed to take a photograph of the species, then you can upload it to the relevant images folder (links are below) and then include it in your record. Here is how to do it:-

    • Firstly, rename your image file using the species name or common name and put your initials at the end of the name (e.g Daisy_SC) to avoid issues with duplicate filenames for repeat recordings of the same species.

    • From your phone or tablet, select the correct image folder for the image you want to upload by clicking on the folder link below:-

    • Once the folder is open, select the “+” icon and choose “upload file”. Then select the image on your phone and it will be uploaded into the image folder on google drive.

    • The next job is to insert a link from the data sheet to your newly uploaded image file. To do this, open the image folder on google drive and find the image that you have just uploaded. Click on the three dots below the image (might be via a ‘+ menu icon’ as on the Samsung phone I tested) and then “copy the link”.

    • Finally, go to the data sheet and in the cell that you have put the “Y” indicating that an image is available, insert the link.

  • If you have any problems linking images into your records, don’t worry. You can just email me the images (renamed) and I can link them to the records that you have entered (email me on

  • The image of the first entry on the data sheet for the Comma butterfly can be seen from a screenshot on the image below. When the mouse is hovered over the linked cell, the image link appears as seen here:-

linked image.jpg

Recording observations for the Humpty-Dumpty fields

“Take a stroll up the hill and get involved”


A particular focus of the 20-20 “Big Green Week” project is to collect information for the area of fields commonly referred to as the “Humpty-Dumpties” – an area of land just south of the village which was used to quarry much of the stone for the houses and has since been farmed, mainly as pasture for sheep.

There has previously been a survey of the area in 1996-1997 by Dr Ted Leafe, who documented the species found in the fields and in the approach along Tinker’s Lane from the end of Grump Street (Ted’s list can be downloaded here).


This body of work is extensive and includes data collected through a complete annual cycle, representing a huge amount of careful work.

To keep track of how things change in terms of species richness in the area, it would be really useful if we could track the presence and perhaps the relative abundance of species, both in the time that has elapsed since Ted’s original survey, and further into the future.

To repeat this work single-handed, represents a great challenge. Since 1996, advances in technology and communications via the web mean that it would be possible for many hands to make light work. By creating an on-line resource that can be easily accessed, shared and added to, there is no reason why anyone in Ilmington who is interested, could not enjoy getting involved and adding to a collective effort in surveying the Humpty Dumpty fields over the next few years.

To facilitate this, aerial images (courtesy of Google Earth) have been used to define several zones that together comprise the Humpty-Dumpties (link to the survey plan). The zones have been defined along easily-defined lines using clear boundaries on the ground. This means that if you are not able to use a what3words location reference, you can just enter the zone / sub-zone that you made the observation in.

Generally, the more data we can accumulate, the better.

Data should be entered into the data recording sheet (link to data records sheet here).

What you can do to get involved

All you need to do is to take a stroll up to the Humpty Dumpties (either via Grump Street or Foxcote Hill) with a way of identifying wild flowers / grasses (depending on your interest), a pencil and paper and your mobile phone (both for taking photos to add to the records and perhaps to use a plant identification app)… and maybe a flask of tea

humptie dumpties aerial_edited.jpg

Aerial image of the “Humpty-Dumpties”.

It has been subdivided into zones : A – G

humpty dumpty data recording sheet.jpg

If you have trouble with any of the process, or find issues that need addressing (there will doubtless be many ways we can improve this as things develop) please do not hesitate to contact Sean or Tammy Clifford on 01608 682521, or email Sean (

The Ilmington Community Nature Survey

This page describes a way that everyone with an interest in nature and green spaces in and around Ilmington can get involved in contributing to an effort to catalogue the wild species of plants, animals and other organisms that are living in and around our village.

data recording sheet.jpg

When you have arrived, just find a spot that you like and forage around in the undergrowth to find as many different species of plant as you can. For each species, use your preferred method for identifying plants (this could be paper-based key / text book, or an on-line app) to identify the plant (there are many books / apps and I have listed a few at the bottom of this page).

Make a record of your findings and if possible include all the following:-

  1. Date

  2. what3words location and the Field Zone reference

  3. Common name

  4. Scientific name

  5. Whether the plant is in flower / fruit or just vegetative (leaves and stems with not flowers or fruits present)

  6. Take a digital image of the plant / flower / leaves to upload to the survey folder


When you get home, you can enter your records here (image of the spreadsheet is below to show you what it looks like).

what you will need
How to record your observations
data recording
Image upload
Humpty Dumpty
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