Amazing Nature Identification Apps

Have you found yourself noticing nature more since being in lockdown? What birds are singing in the dawn chorus? Has a butterfly visited your garden you’ve not seen before? Is it a toad or a frog living in your pond? Discover the wildlife around you with these useful identification apps!

Thankfully there are plenty of free apps to help you to identify and learn the names of the wonderful flora and fauna around you. Some will even help us build up a better picture of what wildlife we have in Hertfordshire and Middlesex by allowing you to submit photos and record your findings. With the help of these apps it’s never too late to start the journey to become a wildlife expert!

Merlin by The Cornell Lab 

This is a very useful bird identification app which takes you through a few simple questions (size, main colour, location and where you saw it) in order to create a list of possible sightings. The species photos are good quality with male, female and juvenile photos to aid identification. Species information is included plus a map of their distribution and sound files of their song and call. 


Robin © Neil Aldridge

BirdNET by The Cornell Lab
(Android only)

This app is a useful guide to aid learning to identify bird song and calls while you are out and about. The app listens to the birds singing around you and will try to identify them from a selected section of the soundfile. It appears to be quite accurate but struggles when it picks up other background noise (walking, cars, talking etc).  By giving an immediate response you can soon start to learn the different bird calls.  

BirdTrack by BTO 

BirdTrack is a bird sighting recording app. The scheme is year-round, and ongoing, and anyone with an interest in birds can contribute. Important results produced by BirdTrack include mapping migration (arrivals and departures) timings and monitoring of rarer birds. 

Mammal Mapper by The Mammal Society

This is a useful app to identify the mammals found in the UK.  You can report a sighting of a live or deceased animal, their tracks, droppings, feeding remains or den/burrow. It also includes non-native species such as mink and muntjac deer. 


European Stoat (Mustela erminea) in habitat UK - Andy Rouse/2020VISION

British Trees by The Woodland Trust 

This easy to use app allows identification of trees through asking a series of questions about the species features. The suggestions based on your answers are accompanied by clear photos and useful information about each species. 

Seek by iNaturalist 

This interesting app uses the power of image recognition technology to identify the plants and animals all around you, making it particularly useful for immediate identification of wild flowers. Earn badges for seeing different types of birds, amphibians, plants, and fungi and participate in monthly observation challenges. The challenges are fun and can help motivate and inspire younger wildlife enthusiasts to get involved. 

Oak bud

Close up of bursting English Oak (Quercus robur) bud - Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

iRecord by BRC

The Biological Records Centre hosts a suite of recording apps for various specific species groups such as butterflies, ladybirds and grasshoppers and crickets. These apps include photos and point out the distinguishing features of each species. In the case of iRecord Grasshoppers, sound recordings of the males ‘singing’ are also provided, a very useful feature for identification.  

The generic iRecord app enables you to get involved with biological recording by contributing any of your species sightings with GPS-acquired coordinates, descriptions and photos. Records are sent to the county recorders or national experts for verification and these records will provide scientists with important new biodiversity information that contributes to nature conservation, planning, research and education. For species that are rare in Herts or that may have similar-looking confusion species, it can be useful if you can supply additional information with your record, such as a photo, a description of the identifying features or a description of the habitat the species was seen in. Any verified records you submit will contribute to the Herts Environmental Records Centre’s database where they are compiled for use, such as  recently published in Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust’s Hertfordshire’s State of Nature report.

Meadow Grasshopper

Meadow grasshopper (c) Josh Kubale 

Non-app recording 

If you don’t have a smartphone or would like to record a sighting online, iRecord is available from a web browser, and the Herts Natural History Society hosts several submission pages for the common species group. The HNHS is also home to the county recorders who can verify your sightings, and records submitted here will be made available to the Herts Environmental Records Centre for wider use. For more information on recording, you can get in touch with the Herts Natural History Society or the Herts Environmental Records Centre.

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Wild At Home

We want to help everyone enjoy wildlife and connect with the wild places around them. Our #WildAtHome project aims to help bring you closer to wildlife in the safety of your home. Each week we'll be sending you ideas and inspiration on how to stay wild whilst remaining safe at home.

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