Citizen Science Opportunities

Overview

Are you interested in contributing to science and discovery?

Are you interested in biodiversity and conservation?

If you answered yes to these questions, then this page is for you!

What is Citizen Science?

Citizen science provides a unique opportunity for individuals to participate in data collection and/or analysis activities, particularly in relation to environmental issues or questions, but also in many other fields of endeavour. It is about citizens contributing to scientific discoveries. It is also about developing science as a hobby, as much as you may enjoy art, or literature. 

There are several ways to get involved in Citizen Science activities in Wingecarribee Shire, including:

  • NatureMapr – use this free app to contribute sightings to the Southern Highlands Nature Map
  • Aussie Backyard Bird Count – download the free Bird Count app to count birds in your backyard or favourite park during the third week of October each year
  • Platypus surveys in autumn and spring – volunteer your time to look for platypus in the Wingecarribee River
  • Koala Karaoke – help us to monitor koala bellows in spring and summer
  • Join Bushcare or Rivercare to undertake ecological restoration work

So sign up to be a registered citizen scientist today and we will be in touch when opportunities arise.

NatureMapr and the Southern Highlands Nature Map

The Southern Highlands Nature Map (SHNM) is an exciting new citizen science tool to help you discover what is around you and for you to contribute to biodiversity monitoring in Wingecarribee and Wollondilly shires. 

Data collected by citizen scientists through NatureMapr helps to educate the broader community including the next generation of scientists and activists, and it can be used in the development of local biodiversity projects. Verified data is shared with the Atlas of Living Australia and work is progressing on sharing data with BioNet (NSW Wildlife Atlas). The project also has the potential to guide strategic land use planning, biosecurity planning and management and local and regional decision making.

To get started

  • Visit the SHNM web page and create a login. You will need a user name, email address and password. You can add more details in your user profile at any time.
  • Explore the web site and look at other sightings and sound recordings as well as the resource centre (located by clicking on the small NatureMapr icon on the top right hand side of the page)
  • Take photos using your camera or phone and submit your observation to the SHNM web site or click on the record sighting button below.
  • It is initially better to record photos and upload them from your camera or phone to the SHNM web site before you familiarise yourself with the NatureMapr app.

For more detailed information, download a copy of the handouts below to help you get started with NatureMapr.

If you have expertise in a particular location or taxonomic area and you would like to volunteer your time as a moderator, please get in touch with the Environment Officer - Bushcare and Citizen Science at Council on 4868 0888.

Aussie Backyard Bird Count

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count celebrates National Bird Week.  This annual count provides an understanding of the birds that like to live near us.

During the week, participants count birds for 20 minutes and can do as many surveys as they want over the week. Visit Aussie Backyard Bird Count for more information, download the app and get familiar with the field guide. Download the reports from previous years listed below.

Backyard Bird Count Results

The top ten birds counted during the third week in October 2019 included the Crimson Rosella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Australian Magpie, Australian Wood Duck, Galah, Noisy Miner, Little Corella, Australian King Parrot, Common Myna and Magpie Lark, with the Pied Currawong and Eastern Rosella slipping down a few places compared with 2018. The Crimson Rosella retains the top spot since counts began in 2015.

Interestingly, the reporting rate for the Crimson Rosella, Australian Magpie, Australian King-Parrot and Pied Currawong was greater in Wingecarribee when compared with NSW and nationally. The reporting rate is the percentage of surveys where a species was recorded.

The numbers of introduced bird species recorded were highest in the more populated parts of the shire.

Summarised findings include:

  • 376 observers participated, submitting 595 checklists
  • The number of checklists ranged from 1-11 per registered user
  • A total of 14272 individual birds were observed during bird week
  • 166 bird species were recorded
  • 13 introduced species were recorded 
  • Out of the top ten birds recorded within the Wingecarribee, the reporting rate of nine out of the top ten, was greater than both National and State reporting rates. Only the Noisy Miner had a lower reporting rate in the Wingecarribee.
  • A pest species, the Red-whiskered Bulbul, was reported in Werai. 

There are data limitations which are described in the report.

 

At Home Citizen Science Projects

Backyard Bioblitz

What better way to get involved in citizen science month than to record the biodiversity that visits or resides in your backyard. This could be birds, insects, plants and other animals.

To contribute to a Backyard BioBlitz, we recommend that you try to photograph all your observations and submit them to Southern Highlands Nature Map. That way we can get a better idea of what’s inhabiting the urban and regional areas of the Southern Highlands.

Backyard BioBlitzes are flexible in how they can be structured, but here are a few tips:

  • While sitting inside, keep an eye on what is happening outside your window. Record sightings of animals as they move past your window.
  • Spend 20 minutes exploring your backyard and record what you see. If you feel like taking a more passive approach, sit out in your garden and record what you see while having your morning coffee or tea.
  • Gamify sightings: if there are a few of you in the household, set up a competition to see who can see the most species in a day, a week or the month of April.
  • Contribute to a bigger project: Wild Pollinator Count runs from April 12th to 19th and asks participants to record visiting insect pollinators.
  • See something unique or unsure what it is? Take a photo and submit it to SHNM to see if someone can identify it for you.

 

Biodiversity Projects in the Southern Highlands

Join with us in looking out for and recording our iconic animals including the Koala, Platypus and Glossy-black Cockatoo. 

 

Other Citizen Science Opportunities

There are many and varied projects that you may find interesting, and the best way to start is to go to a project finder site such as the Atlas of Living Australia Citizen Science Central.

There are many projects that run at the same time each year, and in addition to the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, take a look at Frog week and Australian Pollinator Week. The Australian Citizen Science Association is another great place to find additional opportunities.