City Nature Challenge

City Nature Challenge 2020 banner

Amy Lewis

Want to help wildlife, improve your wellbeing and learn something new?

This April, we're asking people in the North West to search for wildlife living on their doorstep, connect with nature and help us to discover just who our wild neighbours are across Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside.

The City Nature Challenge is a citizen science event designed to get people around the world involved in wildlife recording and learning about nature in their local patch. Between Friday 24 - Monday 27 April 2020, we want you observe and submit pictures of any and all wild plants, animals, and fungi you can find in and around your home using the free mobile app iNaturalist.

Picture identifications will be happening from Tuesday 28th April to Sunday 3rd May. Final results of how many observations, how many species and how many people have taken part in each city will be announced on Monday 4th May.

Whether you are a  budding or seasoned citizen scientist, participating is easy.

During such uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to foster a sense of community and embrace the healing powers that our natural world has to offer. The City Nature Challenge allows us to do just that - while learning new things. You might be surprised by how many insects thrive in the nooks and crannies around you or the numbers of birds that fly past your window.

How to get involved

Bird watching at home

Nick Upton/2020VISION

1. Find Wildlife

It can be any wild plant, animal, fungi, or any other evidence of life (like fur, feathers or poo) found in your neighbourhood, home, yard, or even through your windows.

Wildlife recording inaturalist

Charlotte Varela

2. Take a picture

Take photos of what you find and upload them onto iNaturalist. Visit inaturalist.org from your browser, or download the iNaturalist app from the Apple App Store or Google Play store.

Sahar exploring Fletcher Moss in Manchester

3. Learn something new and get closer to nature

Even if you aren't sure what you've discovered, iNaturalist's photo recognition technology will suggest what it could be and wildlife experts in the app's online community will check if it's right.

Research shows that connecting with nature can decrease stress levels, lower blood pressure and overall increase our feelings of wellbeing.

Large pools of data built through iNaturalist, natural history museums, and science organisations help authorities make informed conservation decisions that allow humans to coexist sustainably with the plants and animals in their neighbourhoods.
butterfly banner CNC

Nick Upton/2020VISION

We will be filling this page with ideas of how you can bring nature to you and make your outdoor spaces more wildlife friendly in the run up to the City Nature Challenge - whether you have a yard, balcony, window ledge or garden. So keep checking for more updates.

We'd love for you share what you see with us by tagging us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter too and using the hashtags #EverydayWildlife and #CityNatureChallenge.

Provide some water for drinking, bathing...and maybe swimming

bird bathing

Margaret Holland

All animals need water to survive. By providing a water source in your garden, you can invite in a whole menagerie. Even a bowl on the floor will be much appreciated by a blackbird wanting a morning bath.

Read our guide to providing water for wildlife

Let your grass grow long

bumblee bee in a meadow

Jon Hawkins

Save yourself time and energy by letting your lawn grow and the wildflowers flourish. Even if you can only set aside a border, pot or a large container to grow wild, it will help. Wildflowers are often considered to be weeds, but they are important for providing food for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. As the grass grows, you'll find butterflies and moths will shelter or lay their eggs in your new wild patch. 

Read our top tips for maintaining a wild patch

Make your own moth trap

A white ermine moth standing on an egg box

Vicky Nall

Professional moth traps can be expensive (and look a bit like space ships) but you can quickly and easily make your own with a bedsheet and a torch to discover which moths live outside your house.

Read our beginners guide to moth trapping

Feed the birds (and make your own feeders using kitchen scraps)

children making bird feeders

Dawn Dickens

Putting out food is an easy way to attract birds into your garden. A few feeders dotted about can bring a whole menagerie of feathered friends - and watching their antics is as drama filled as any soap opera. You can use specially made bird feeders or make your own - it's messy fun and you'll get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing you're doing your bit to help the local birds keep their energy up while they look after chicks.

How to feed garden birds

How to make your own bird feeders

Keep up with our blog to find out who you could see in April

Alan Price/Gatehouse Studio

Can't take any photos? Written records will still help wildlife

If you’re not able to take photos of wildlife, focus your efforts on identifying species documented in your area—even those documented before the City Nature Challenge. A great way to make this a safe community event is to host a virtual identification party on iNaturalist. 

You can also send your written observations to your local wildlife records centre. Depending on where you live, you will need to submit these records to different places.

BioBank logo

Submit a Merseyside record

All recordings in Merseyside can be submitted online using Rodis. Please submit by clicking on the icon to the left, or by emailing a spreadsheet to info@merseysidebiobank.org.uk.

Submit a record to Mersey BioBank

Greater Manchester Local Record Centre logo

Submit a Manchester record

All recordings in Manchester can be submitted online using Rodis or MapMate. Please submit by clicking on the icon to the left, or by emailing a spreadsheet to info@gmwildlife.org.uk.

Submit a record to GMLRC

LeRN logo

Submit a Lancashire record

All records in Lancashire can be submitted online using iRecord. To do so just click on the icon to the left, or email a spreadsheet to lern@lancashire.gov.uk.

Submit a record to LERN