Why take part in the City Nature Challenge?

With City Nature Challenge taking place this month, Euan Burns speaks to local wildlife recorder, Anthony Beyga, about the importance of recording.

Anthony Beyga is a wonderful advocate of the iNaturalist app, and will be helping Liverpool out during the City Nature Challenge 2020. This won’t be Anthony’s first year involved. He took part last year, but says he wants to record even more than last time.

Anthony is now retired but used to be a self-employed gardener. He does most of his wildlife recording in Croxteth Park, Mab Lane Community Woodland and the surrounding Knowsley area. As well as recording wildlife in his spare time, he is also a keen photographer, so all the pictures used here were taken by Anthony.

I asked Anthony a few questions about why he thinks it's so important to take part in the City Nature Challenge.

A bright red fly agaric mushroom with white bumps on its parasol

Fly agaric by Anthony Beyga

What made you get involved with wildlife recording and the City Nature Challenge?

“I got involved through volunteering at CPVG (Croxteth Park Volunteer Group) as I have always taken a great interest in the biodiversity in the park through photography. Then I heard about the City Nature Challenge and iNaturalist, and it was perfect that the two things I loved doing - taking photos and recording - came together in this one app! It provides the perfect opportunity to photograph and record data to highlight what a diverse area I live in.”

What plans do you have for taking part in the City Nature Challenge this year?

“Pretty much the same as last year really, but I want to try and record more than last year and I would really like to try to get more young people and schools involved through my link with the volunteer group. We have worked with several schools and the kids love the ease of using the app. I would like to see the LCR promote use by schools a lot more.”

A kestrel hovering in the wind against a blue sky

Kestrel by Anthony Beyga

How important do you think it is for people to engage with nature at this uncertain time?

“It has always been vitally important but now even more so, with climate change being so prevalent in the news. We need to get children more involved as they are the future citizen scientists and its only through them that we can create a legacy that will protect the planet for them and for future generations thereafter.”

A young froglet with golden eyes sitting on someone's fingers

Froglet by Anthony Beyga

What do you think is the best way to get people involved?

“The best way, in my view, would be to make it part of the curriculum: get more children out of the classrooms at least once a week, out into their local parks and green spaces, and encourage the use of apps such as iNaturalist which is a fantastic, free resource. It’s always worth remembering that you don’t need to go on a specific wildlife walk to use the iNaturalist app. I do most of my recordings when I’m out running or walking the dog!”

At the moment we’re looking to hear from anyone and everyone who’s still managing to get out and do some wildlife recording despite the restrictions in place due to the coronavirus. Find out more about how you can take part in City Nature Challenge where you live, and don't forget to show us how much wildlife you’re managing to find in the confines of your garden or balcony. Click one of the social media buttons, below, to tell us more.