We've put together a guide to some of the online resources that offer you a wealth of information on wildlife in the UK.
The guide is divided into two sections:
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Sites dealing with general wildlife.
ARKive - A not-for-profit project that gives online access to some of the best of the world's wildlife films and photographs. More than 1,500 of the world's leading filmmakers and photographers have contributed videos, images and factfiles. The site includes a dedicated section on UK species.
The Big Wildlife Garden website is run by Natural England and aims to put you in touch with other people who love wildlife and are passionate about their gardens. Doing one small thing today will make a massive difference to England’s wildlife.
iSpot - Get help with wildlife identification at iSpot, the place to learn about wildlife and to share your interest with a friendly community. Take a look at the latest spots, start your own album of observations, and join a group. Get help identifying what you have seen, or perhaps you'll be able to help others learn about what they've found. iSpot is part of the OPAL project at the Open University.
The National Biodiversity Network - The NBN Gateway is a 'data warehouse' for biodiversity information. Individual records, covering plants, mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, reptiles and invertebrates, are stored on the NBN Gateway and can be displayed on a map of the UK in a number of different ways.
UK BAP Website - The website supporting the implementation of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP), the key project on biodiversity conservation. The site details species, habitat, and the local action plans that comprise the UK BAP. You can find out more about lead partners and LBAP officers; download reports, data, guidance notes and documents; and explore the factors (keywords) affecting the decline of species or habitats.
UK Safari - The sites offers an A-Z of quick links to a range of species and topics – from amphibians through to wildlife hospitals. An online shop offers books, identification charts and equipment for wildlife enthusiasts, and there is also a dedicated members’ area.
Wildlife Trusts - This is the site of the 47 UK Wildlife Trusts who are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. It offers a database of more than 650 species covering wild flowers, trees, insects, butterflies and moths, birds and garden wildlife. You can also search for a wildlife trust in your area, download free publications and find out how to get involved.
Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust - The ‘Learn’ section includes factfiles about the world's wetlands and the wildlife that depends on them for survival. There is also a ‘Kids' Zone’ packed with fun games and activities, and a range of lesson plans for Key Stage 1/2 (primary school) and KS 2/3 (junior/lower secondary school).
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) - A UK-based charity working to conserve amphibians and reptiles, formed with the merger of Froglife and the Hepetological Conservation Trust. Its site offers information on all our native species, including a picture gallery, along with details on the UK’s Biodiversity Plan species.
British Ornithologists Union (BOU) - Promotes the study of birds to understand their biology and to aid their conservation. For more than 100 years the BOU has produced The British List: a checklist of the birds that have been recorded in Britain and Ireland. You can view the guide online and find out how to take part in future studies.
British Trust for Ornithology - Promotes bird conservation through volunteer-based surveys. Their Bird Facts guide is a comprehensive resource on bird species. There is also a feature on the population status of birds in the UK.
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) - Europe’s largest bird conservation charity offers advice on looking after birds, bird watching, land management and the law relating to wild birds and their eggs. Also contains a dedicated section on things to do includes childrens’ activities and how to get involved.
The Hawk and Owl Trust is a national UK charity founded 40 years ago in 1969. It is dedicated to conserving owls and other birds of prey in the wild – and increasing knowledge and understanding of them.
Freshwater Biological Association (FBA) - A collection of information on freshwater science, built up over 70 years, covers all aspects of freshwater ecology, as well as pollution, phycology, microbiology, invertebrate taxonomy and ecology, sediment and water chemistry, aquaculture and fisheries management, and hydrology. The FBA’s online offering includes the Fritsch Collection of illustrations of freshwater and terrestrial algae; and FreshwaterLife, a website offering data on the world’s freshwater organisms and habitats.
FreshwaterLife - This collaborative project is a portal to information about life in fresh water. Users can search using the freshwater information search engine, or browse for information on the four topics of natural history and education, research and methods, policy and regulation, and region/country.
Amateur Entomologists' Society (AES) - The UK's leading organisation for people interested in insects. There are insect factfiles, care sheets, and advice on conservation and how to become an entomologist. You can also find out more about the organisation's subscription magazines and the events and field trips that it leads.
British Arachnological Society - Promotes the study of and wider public knowledge about arachnids, especially spiders, pseudoscorpions and harvestmen. It also maintains close co-operation between amateur and professional arachnologists through its Bulletin. The society operates the Spider Recording Scheme, which invites interested members of the public as well as experts to record information about arachnids, to contribute to a nationwide atlas.
British Dragonfly Society - Promotes and encourages the study and conservation of dragonflies and their natural habitats, especially in the UK. It offers a full checklist of UK species, which includes photographs and a written description, details of habitat, distribution and status and notes about similar species.
Buglife - The Invertebrate Conservation Trust - The only organisation in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates. Its website has a ‘Discover’ section, which covers the "weird and wonderful world of bugs" and includes a learning zone and activities such as making your own wormery. You can also find out more about key conservation projects and how to get involved in the organisation’s wildlife survey and other volunteering work.
Butterfly Conservation - Committed to the conservation of butterflies and moths, it operates 33 nature reserves and is involved in 67 landscape-scale projects to conserve butterfly habitats. The website includes an A-Z of species, details first-of-the-year sightings and features key butterfly and moth species. Also included are habitat advice, details of projects, the work being carried out on nature reserves, and the survival zones. There is also a section on how to attract butterflies to gardens. website
Moths Count - A partnership organisation that aims to encourage interest in moths throughout the UK. It has established an ongoing National Moth Recording Scheme to improve knowledge and conservation of the 900+ species of larger moths. The website details the project, including news updates and partner details, and has a dedicated section about moths, which includes factsheets and how to find and record moths.
UK moths - The aim of this independent site, which relies on contributions, is to illustrate as many species of UK moths as possible and to provide this information in an accessible format. More than 2,400 species have been recorded in the British Isles, and currently three-quarters of these are illustrated with almost 5000 photographs. You can search using either the the ‘Beginner's Top 20’, which is the 20 most commonly requested identifications, or by keyword.
Mammal Society - Works to protect mammals, halt the decline of threatened species, and advise on all issues affecting British mammals. Along with a range of free factsheets is a ‘Fun Zone’, offering free computer screen wallpaper, mammal puzzles, and a ‘listen to the whales!’ feature. You can also find out about the society's membership, training courses and publications.
Bat Conservation Trust - You can learn about the 17 species of bats in the UK, including where they live, what they eat and how they fly in the dark. You can also find out about bats of the world, why they are under threat and relevant legislation. Along with the latest news, there is an image library and a publications catalogue. You can also find a local group in your area or join one of the online forums.
British Deer Society - Working to ensure the survival and future of Britain’s deer, it offers information on the six species found in this country. It includes background information and deer distribution and advice sheets covering hunting, deer control and legislation.
Vincent Wildlife Trust - Specialises in mammal research and conservation in Britain and Ireland. It was founded in 1975 and has carried out important research on rare mammals ever since. Currently work is focused on the polecat, pine marten and the bats – notably Bechstein’s, Barbastelle and the Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats. In addition, a wealth of information about the pine marten is available on the Trust's Prospects for 'pine martens project.
The Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI) - The leading scientific society in the UK and Ireland for the study of plant distribution and taxonomy. It offers a number of online databases, including the BSBI database, which covers species names, chromosome numbers and relevant literature. Its Rare Plant Register contains details of the rarest species in the country, together with information on how they are faring.
British Pteridological Society - Founded in the Lake District in 1891 and soon became the focal point for fern enthusiasts throughout the UK. The website offers an introduction to ferns, which includes detailed photography.
Plant postcode database - - Produced by Flora-for-Fauna, the website lets you generate local lists of UK plants (flora) and/or animals (fauna).
Plantlife - Working to protect wild plants and protect their habitats. Activities include identifying and conserving sites of exceptional botanical importance, rescuing wild plants from the brink of extinction, and ensuring that common plants don’t become rare in the wild. The Plantlife website includes information on rare and threatened species under their Back from the Brink programme, including species dossiers and management guides for landowners and farmers. Numerous other Plantlife reports and leaflets on wild plants and plant conservation are available to download from the publications page of the website.
Science and Plants for Schools (SAPS) - Works with teachers and educators to promote plant science and molecular biology. It offers a number of online guides, including The Plant Science Image Database, which contains images of plants, and the "Key for identification of British trees and shrubs", which provides a route to the identification of 80 trees and shrubs found growing wild in Britain and Ireland. These resources are suitable for a wide age range, from primary through to post-16 as well as adults.
Woodland Trust - Woodland conservation charity devoted to the protection of our native woodland heritage. The website offers a searchable online version of its directory of the 1,000+ woods in the Trust's care. There is also an online image gallery, a range of interactive maps and access to articles from the charity’s magazine. The site also links to a Nature Detectives website for primary age children, schools, groups and families and the Nature's Calendar survey for students and adults to create their own personal area on the National Phenology database and enter records.
Marine Conservation Society - UK charity for the protection o four seas, shores and wildlife. It helps riase awareness of marine pollution and brings together volunteers to keep our beach clean.
MarLIN - Information for marine environmental management, protection and education.
Shark Trust - Seeks to advance the conserrvation of sharks through science, education and action by working with the general public, divers, boat owners, fishermen and politicans.