The winners and runners up of the NBN Awards for Wildlife Recording 2021 were announced at an online ceremony on Wednesday 24 November 2021.

These national Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding contributions adults and young people are making to wildlife recording and data sharing, which is helping to improve our understanding of the UK’s biodiversity.

There are five Award categories:
• NBN Young Person’s Award (open to individuals aged 11-20)
• NBN Newcomer Award (open to individuals 21 years +)
• NBN Award for wildlife recording – Marine (open to individuals 21 years +)
• NBN Award for wildlife recording – Terrestrial (open to individuals 21 years +)
• NBN Group Award (no age restrictions)

NBN Young Person’s Award 2021

Izzy Fry, (age 16, from Tisbury, Wiltshire) is the winner of the NBN Young Person’s Award 2021.

Izzy is a young ambassador for the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, and also co-founded a local nature group called Tisbury Young Nature Watch.  She inspires and encourages other young people in the area to have a love for nature and learn to conserve and protect it. Izzy organises lots of fun events such as owl pellet dissections, water vole surveys and young photographers’ days.

She volunteers for the BTO’s bird ringing scheme and volunteers at the county’s wildlife hospital.  The winner has her own nature blog a following of nearly 7,000 on Instagram.

Izzy Fry, winner of the NBN Young Person’s Award 2021, says:

“I love getting involved with wildlife recording because I know I am collecting valuable data and hopefully playing a part in helping to learn more about how we can protect  and conserve the species we are surveying!”

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Izzy Fry – winner of the NBN Young Person’s Award 2021

The runner-up of the NBN Young Person’s Award 2021, is 18 year old Alfred Dudley-Warde, (from Middleton, West Sussex).

Alfred has been volunteering since he was 14 years old, first for the National Trust, and since 2018, for Botany Bay Conservancy.  He was particularly interested in the life in the chalk ghyll stream and the presence of wild brown trout – and started to help with general conservation work.

Alfred was trained by the South Down National Park Authority to survey the stream for the Riverfly Partnership and it was clear that he is very observant and thorough in his approach.

He is not only making his important contribution but also inspiring others of his generation to engage and collaborate.

Alfred Dudley-Warde, runner-up of the NBN Young Person’s Award 2021, says:

“I’ve always spent a lot of time outside in the countryside, and this has captured my interest in observing nature. I enjoy watching how populations fluctuate throughout the year, how years compare to one another and how external factors act on the environment. It is important to try to understand the changes in our ecosystems.”

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Alfred Dudley-Warde – runner-up of the NBN Young Person’s Award 2021

NBN Newcomer Award 2021

Dakota Reid, (from Belfast, County Antrim) is the winner of the NBN Newcomer Award 2021.

Dakota is especially keen to record birds, Lepidoptera and bees but is also working to improve knowledge of more groups that are under-recorded. She recorded species of spider in Northern Ireland that are currently-under recorded such as the gorse orb-weaver and helped to map the spread of species such as the great spotted woodpecker, the tree bumblebee and Blair’s shoulder knot moth.

Dakota also promotes wildlife and inspires others by posting many sightings on social media. She winner has created blogs, appeared on panel discussions etc. and is an articulate voice for young people in the environment sector.  Kate is also active in advocacy and lobbying for policy change.

Dakota Reid, winner of the NBN Newcomer Award 2021, says:

“I have always loved wildlife and from I was 9 or 10 I would have always kept a mental note of the bird species I’d seen. Engaging in wildlife in this way was a big boost for my wellbeing when I was stressed.

“In early 2020 I noticed people on social media posting about species lists and recording schemes and I decided that I wanted to get involved in that. The pandemic gave me the opportunity to really discover the wildlife in my local area including recording 153 moth species (and counting!) in my garden and 67 bird species in my immediate local area.

“Adding these records to iRecord and CEDaR NI made me feel like I was actually contributing to something, as well as doing something that I enjoy. Over the last year and a half my ID skills have improved massively and I’ve been really pleased that I can contribute to knowledge about under-recorded invertebrates and help map species that are spreading through Ireland such as the Tree Bumblebee.”

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Dakota Reid – winner of the NBN Newcomer Award 2021

The runner-up of the NBN Newcomer Award 2021 is Leah Cox, (from Belfast, County Antrim).

Leah is a member of the Butterfly Verification Committee in Northern Ireland. She has received training in iRecord, moth and butterfly identification. She is a very active volunteer for Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland and contributes to our events, Facebook group, surveying and verification activities.

Leah has readily taken on more tasks as her skill level has increased and is also digitising paper records in addition to her iRecord role.  In addition, she is helping to streamline and modernise the verification of approximately 10-15,000 butterfly records a year.

Leah Cox, runner-up of the NBN Newcomer Award 2021, says:

“What excites me about biological recording is the unknown. I specifically love moth trapping and so I never know what specimens I’ll find come morning! But I also love knowing I’m contributing vital data to aid conservation efforts.”

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Leah Cox – runner-up of the NBN Newcomer Award 2021

2021 NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Marine

Kate Lock, (from Marloes, Pembrokeshire) is the winner of the NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Marine 2021.

Kate has been working to coordinate Seasearch activities for 25 years – generating her own records as well as supporting less-experienced coordinators and volunteers.

Kate’s immense knowledge and experience of Pembrokeshire makes her the go-to person to liaise with other organisations, stakeholders and policy-makers in that area.

Being an employee of Natural Resources Wales in her professional capacity puts Kate in the unique position of ‘having a foot in both camps’ to maximise the impact of Seasearch through her job and her network of relationships. She is trusted for that blend of longevity in post and expertise.

Kate Lock, winner of the 2021 NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Marine, says:

“I learnt to dive at University in Plymouth in the mid ‘80s and feel privileged to be able to see first-hand the amazing marine life found in UK waters.  I have always wanted to know more about what I am seeing and put a name to the seaweeds and creatures that I find, so when introduced to Seasearch it was the perfect project to get involved.

“Diving in the UK can often be challenging but that is also part of the fun and attraction as you never know what you may find, it could be muddy sediments with fabulous burrowing anemones or rocks festooned in sponges and sea squirts or lush red seaweed meadows – no two dives will be the same.

“Being able to teach divers to complete surveys is fun, being able to build up a community of underwater recorders where everyone is so excited to share their photos and records, knowing that these records are letting us get to know our underwater world better, dive by dive, is fantastic.”

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Kate Lock – winner of the 2021 NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Marine

The runner-up of the 2021 NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Marine is Paul Blanchard, (from Portballintrae, County Antrim).

Paul is one of the Sea Deep projects most dedicated shark egg case searchers. Through his collection and recording of shark & skate egg case data for this Ulster Wildlife project, he has monitored the presence of elasmobranch species in Northern Irish waters.

Paul has submitted 981 egg case records to the project since 2019 – by far the most submissions by a single volunteer!

He also manages ongoing public engagement and training at the Coast Office in Portballintrae as well as leading rock pool surveys and snorkel expeditions.

Paul Blanchard, runner-up of the 2021 NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Marine, says:

“I’ve lived by the sea all my life and have worked as an outdoor activities  instructor for 25 years teaching a number of water sports.  For the last 4 years have been running the Coast Office – a community boat shed, situated in Portballintrae Harbour – where I’ve grown to enjoy the education and conservation aspect more than the activities themselves.

“I read a poem from a Senegalese poet which said “ in the end we will conserve only what we love, love what we understand and understand only what we are taught” I have tried to shape the Coast Office with this sentiment very much in mind.”

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Paul Blanchard – runner up of the NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Marine 2021

2021 NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Terrestrial

Andrew Graham, (from Bala, Gwynedd) is the winner of the 2021 NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Terrestrial.

Andrew has held the role of County Butterfly and Moth Recorder for various North Wales Vice Counties for over 20 years, helping to determine specimens and verify tens of thousands of records. He also provides a pivotal role in collating and sharing records from all North Wales Vice Counties, through a website, which he continues to develop and maintain.

Andrew also makes an annual submission of records to Butterfly Conservation, other National Schemes and Societies and to the Local Environmental Records Centre – Cofnod –where he has submitted over 580,000 records.

Andrew’s main interest is Lepidoptera, but his expertise now also includes true flies (Diptera), true bugs (Hemiptera) and Hymenoptera – which are under-recorded in North Wales, and as such he is filling a vital recording gap.

Andrew Graham, winner of the 2021 NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Terrestrial, says:

“As a life-long wildlife enthusiast I have always considered recording one’s sightings to be an obvious thing to do. Many people, myself included, start with lists of garden birds, wildflowers etc. and this can develop into an all-absorbing passion when one’s interest extends to take in the multitude of smaller organisms which are present all around us – even in over-crowded, nature-depleted Britain.

“Ever improving identification literature, the computer revolution, GPS and digital photography have come together to transform biological recording, to a remarkable degree, since I was a boy in the 1960s. To my mind, what makes this all the more rewarding is the development of Local Recording Centres (Cofnod in North Wales), National Recording Schemes for some taxon groups and the National Biodiversity Network/Biological Records Centre to tie it all together.                                                                                                        

“The fact that an amateur can now make a meaningful contribution to our collective knowledge of the natural world as well as help to provide the raw data on which conservation decisions can be based is nothing short of amazing.”

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Andrew Graham – winner of the 2021 NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Terrestrial

The runner-up of the 2021 NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Terrestrial is Amanda Cogan Barber, (from Newton le Willows, Merseyside).

Amanda uses iNaturalist daily and records everything – animals, birds, plants, insects and marine life amounting to hundreds of records per month.

She has made over 19,000 observations on iNaturalist in the last three years alone with thousands still being uploaded.  Her records have also reached the NBN Atlas via the Merseyside Biobank.

Amanda has an unbelievably infectious enthusiasm for nature and recording it for the good of the world and uses every opportunity to encourage others to join in – while out on walks, by making videos and through writing articles.

Amanda Cogan Barber, runner-up of the 2021 NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Terrestrial, says:

“I feel nature both excites me and calms me at the same time! As a generalist naturalist, recording anything and everything and not specialising in any particular species – as I love it all and can’t decide what to specialise in – I quite often don’t know what I am recording and never know what I’ll discover.  And I find that really exciting!  It fills my life with many adventures and I feel like an explorer and treasure hunter! It keeps me eternally young at heart!

“Our beautiful planet earth provides us with so many amazing natural treasures and its wonders never cease to astound me and take my breath away! It distracts me from worries and warms and comforts my heart, mind and soul!

“I record nature mostly in the form of photography so that I capture those moments and encounters as a visual memory, and feel proud that I’m giving back to nature at least a little of what it offers me by sharing my findings, making a positive difference and contribution to the understanding, research and conservation of our wonderful and diverse species.”

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Amanda Cogan Barber – runner-up of the 2021 NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Terrestrial

NBN Group Award 2021

Marden Wildlife, (from Kent), is the winner of the NBN Group Award 2021.

Marden Wildlife only came into being in January 2020.  Previously its members had been surveying insects and ringing/surveying birds for five years for two local famers and producing annual reports.

The group is fortunate in having members with significant expertise, for example, appropriately licensed to handle dormice and Schedule 1 birds, relevant postgraduate qualifications, the practical experience to advise on most taxa, and a National Nature Reserve warden.

It is hard to overstate how profoundly Marden Wildlife has influenced the area. Recording by group members on farms – encompassing all taxa – is enthusing more farmers to take positive action to increase biodiversity on their land, with an ambitious network of new Countryside Stewardship agreements in place, aiming to deliver landscape-scale enhancements.

Louise Carpenter, representing Marden Wildlife – winner of the NBN Group Award 2021 – says:

“It has been a revelation discovering, not just the species we had no idea were sharing our village with us, but the interest being shown by ordinary people in what’s around them in their gardens and in the plants and animals they find on walks around the locality.

“Although plants and birds have been recorded for some time, the additional interest and expertise of local people recruited during the COVID lockdown is raising the importance of biological recording among enthusiasts and landowners alike. If something unexpected is found, we now have someone in the group who can usually identify it, someone to photograph it, and a volunteer who will ensure it gets put on the record.

“From a spider in the bath or a garden creepy-crawly, to a nationally rare sedge or fungus, an obscure moth or critically endangered bird, all are celebrated on our Facebook page. More importantly, our records feed into the conservation work of local farmers and complement the work of government bodies and NGOs who support them.

“Beginners and experts alike, age seven to seventy plus, enthuse and learn from each other. In the current crisis of biodiversity loss fed by ignorance and corporate greed, we are shining a light on what our community stands to lose.”

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A few members of Marden Wildlife – winner of the NBN Group Award 2021

The runner-up of the NBN Group Award is Croxteth Park Volunteer Group, (from Liverpool).

Croxteth Park Volunteer Group (CPVG) is fully engaged in recording and offering a variety of activities such as Wildlife Recording Walks, Moth Trapping nights and Bat Walks.

They have partnered for the last three years with Merseyside BioBank and participated in the City Nature Challenge, winning an Echo Environment award in September 2020.

CPVG has recently volunteered to undertake a Water Vole survey in partnership with the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, and have been surveying ponds for newts and frogs in partnership with Merseyside Environmental Advisory Service.

Additionally, a number of the group have undergone training to become River Guardians as part of an initiative lead by Mersey Rivers Trust.

Christine Beyga, Chair of Croxteth Park Volunteer Group – runner-up of the NBN Group Award 2021 – says:

“We believe that it has always been vitally important to record but now even more so now with the issues around climate change and the threats to biodiversity such as the decline in the number of Butterflies and Moths for instance.

“We passionately believe that we need to get children more involved as they are the future citizen scientists and it’s only through them that we can create a legacy that will protect the planet for them and for future generations thereafter.”

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Croxteth Park Volunteer Group – runner up of the NBN Group Award 2021

Lisa Chilton, Chief Executive Officer of the NBN Trust, says:

“I am thrilled that the NBN Awards give us an occasion to celebrate the achievements of some truly remarkable wildlife recorders.  More than 50% of the UK’s biodiversity has been lost since the industrial revolution, but our government has pledged to halt and reverse the decline by 2030. There has never been a more important time to be monitoring wildlife.

“These experienced and committed wildlife recorders – who are often volunteers – are playing a vital role in nature’s recovery.  We celebrate their passion and resolve, and we hope that their achievements will inspire many others to take up recording and join the fantastic community of enthusiasts and experts across the UK.”

Awards Sponsors 2021

This year we are indebted to eight organisations for their support and sponsorship of the prizes:

1. Opticron

2. Habitat Aid

3. Field Studies Council (FSC)   

4. Michael Hoppen Gallery

5. Bird Photographer of the Year

6. William Collins

7. British Wildlife

8. NHBS

A list of all 21 nominees of the NBN Awards for Wildlife Recording 2021 is available.

John Sawyer NBN Open Data Award 2021

This Award is given to a member of the National Biodiversity Network Trust who is making a valuable contribution to open biodiversity data in the UK.

The Network has 165 Data Partners and of the 203 million biological records shared on the NBN Atlas, 52 million have an Open licence. This award recognises and celebrates the outstanding contribution of NBN Data Partners towards achieving the NBN vision of “collecting and sharing wildlife data openly to educate and inform”.

The British Dragonfly Society is the winner of the John Sawyer NBN Open Data Award 2021.  This national recording scheme was established in 1968.  Their NBN Atlas dataset includes over 1.6 million verified records of 59 species from the taxon group. All the records are shared on an Open licence and over three quarters have a resolution of 100 m or higher. The dataset covers the period 1880 to 2020 and is updated annually on the NBN Atlas with recent records maintained in iRecord.

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David Hepper of the British Dragonfly Society – winner of the John Sawyer NBN Open Data Award 2021