Citizen Science Opportunities

citizen science.jpg

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

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.

NatureMapr Handout 1 - How to Upload a Sighting(PDF, 368KB)

NatureMapr Moderator Practice Notes(PDF, 494KB)

Southern Highlands Nature Map - Record a Sighting

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 Aussie Backyard Bird Count results from 2020 are now available. A big shout out to all the citizen scientists that counted birds and contributed to these results. 

The good news is that more people (close to 400) contributed to the count, more surveys were completed and over 20300 birds and 163 species were counted last year in Wingecarribee Shire. The Crimson Rosella has been the most counted bird for all previous years, however it was knocked off its number one perch by the Little Corella last year. We've all seen and heard the massive flocks of Little Corellas in town! Does this result reflect a changing bird population due to climate change? 

Other key findings include: 

  • The top ten birds counted were: Little Corella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Australian Magpie, Crimson Rosella, Noisy Miner, Australian Wood Duck, Galah, Pied Currawong, Australian King-Parrot and the Common Myna (exotic species). 
  • Despite slipping to fourth place, the reporting rate for the Crimson Rosella was much greater in Wingecarribee in comparison with rates in NSW and Australia.  
  • There were 37 species, all native to Australia, that were only seen once during the survey, including the Diamond Firetail, Satin Flycatcher, Red-browed Treecreeper and Nankeen Kestrel. 
  • Eleven introduced bird species were recorded
  • Ten bird species listed as threatened were recorded in the survey. 
  • The Dusky Woodswallow was the threatened species with the greatest count (reported in 0.88% of surveys) followed by the Glossy Black-Cockatoo which was reported in over 1% of surveys. 
  • Of the three species analysed in more detail, Kookaburras and Eastern Spinebills have smaller reporting rates than in previous years, but the reporting rate was slightly greater than last year for Masked Lapwings.  Reporting rates can be more informative than total counts, as the latter is dependent on participation rates.  

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count will be held again this year between 18-24 October, so download the app and start counting the days down now!

Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2020(PDF, 25MB)

Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2019(PDF, 2MB)

Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2018(PDF, 3MB)

Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2016(PDF, 748KB)

Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2015(PDF, 606KB)

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.

Examples of Local Fungi

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. 

Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project

Glossy Black Cockatoo Conservation

Southern Highlands Platypus Conservation Project

The Barren Grounds - Budderoo Quollidor Project

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.

FrogID Week 10-18 Nov 2020

Australian Pollinator Week 8-15 Nov 2020