Commons Wildlife Watch

A Citizen Science Initiative for Wimbledon and Putney Commons

Citizen Science is in the news.  Increasingly it has been realised that making use of the casual day-to-day observations of the public can enhance scientific knowledge of changing wildlife distributions and abundances.  The importance of these contributions has worldwide recognition.  A good example from the UK is RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch scheme which started over 40 years ago as an initiative linked with the children’s TV programme, Blue Peter.  Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count is another.  

Commons’ Wildlife Watch is our invitation to you to join us in a similar venture on Wimbledon and Putney Commons.  You can help us to quantify and understand the Commons’ wildlife and its sensitivities.  It’s not just birds, we would like you to tell us about the all wildlife you see during a typical family walk.  You may notice things as you are walking along, or perhaps as you pause for a rest or a picnic and can make observation from a particular favourite place.  If you are observing at particular spot, we recommend 10-15 minutes watching and recording.

You don’t need to be an expert; you just need to be willing to tell us what you see using the recording form/prompt sheet which has been developed from our existing records and which you can download and print off.

Of course, if you have them, you may find binoculars useful, and it may help to have an ID book or two, or you may like to use an identification app - there are several available.  We will be supporting you with some identification sheets of the species you are most likely to find.

You can return your findings by email to or by dropping them in or posting them to the Ranger’s Office – see address below.  

You don’t have to participate every time you visit the Commons; if you‘re on holiday, records from others will fill the gap, but it would be marvellous, in a summer season where some of our normal recording has had to be been curtailed, if you could help us plug this gap.

Results will be published on the WPCC website at regular intervals through the year.



There are many resources available to use for help with identification but these below are some that our staff have found helpful.

Butterfly Emergence Chart for Surrey

Some common Summer species to look out for

Woodland Minibeasts

Meadow Minibeasts

Useful Books:

Collins Complete Guide to British Wildlife 

Collins Complete Guide to British Insects. 

Garden Wildlife of Britain and Europe. (Pocket-sized and so convenient when outside walking)

A Comprehensive Guide to Insects of Britain & Ireland)

Collins Guide to Grasses, Sedges Rushes and Ferns of Britain and Northern Europe. 

RSPB Handbook of British Birds 

Birds of Britain and Europe - Collins Nature Guide.  (Pocket-sized and so convenient when outside walking)

The Wild Flower Key.  How to identify wild flowers trees and shrubs in Britain and Ireland (for the emerging plant expert )

Collins Complete Guide to British Wild Flowers.

Britain’s Mammals - a concise guide. 

See also the AIDGAP keys produced by the Field Studies Council

Useful Apps for Mobile Phones:

BirdNET - Bird sound identification

eGuide to Birds of Britain

PlantNet Plant Identification


Wimbledon and Putney Commons Nature Notes Facebook Group - lots of experts on board this group tohelp with identification.

Butterfly Conservation - Identify a Butterfly

Butterfly Conservation - Identify a Moth

Buglife - Identify a Bug

National Plant Monitoring Scheme ID Guide