Recording wildlife on the National Cycle Network in Scotland

Gold finch perched on a tree

If you enjoy looking for wildlife and you live in Scotland, you can record what you see along the National Cycle Network.

All wildlife sightings for non-sensitive species are shared with National Recording Schemes, Local Record Centres and Vice County Recorders (VCRs) and so can contribute to research on climate change and seasonality.

We also run identification training courses for national surveys on birds, bumblebees and butterflies and ask trainees to undertake the RSPB Birdwatch, BeeWalk, Big Butterfly Count or UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme on a National Cycle Network greenway.

Recording this information is vital to the future health of the UK's wildlife and our sightings will contribute to national data and also allow us to better monitor biodiversity along our routes in Scotland.

RSPB Birdwatch

The Birdwatch survey is an hour’s count of birds in one area – results are sent to the RSPB and add to their database of bird sightings.

Big Butterfly Count

The Big Butterfly Count is a 15 minute count of butterflies in one area – results are sent to Butterfly Conservation and help to monitor the health of our pollinators.


BeeWalk is a national recording scheme run by Bumblebee Conservation Trust which asks volunteers to monitor the abundance of bumblebees across the UK. Volunteers identify and count the bumblebees they see on an hour’s walk on the same transect each month from March to October.

UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS)

UKBMS is a national recording scheme which asks volunteers to monitor butterflies across the UK by walking the same section of route every week between the start of April and end of September.

Any of these surveys can be a very pleasant way to spend some time on a sunny day.

Where do I get help in identifying what I see?

You will need a basic understanding of common bird, bumblebee or butterfly species. Further help can be found through Sustrans training days, the partner organisations and our online community of volunteers.

How do I record what I see?

We can help you to get started for each survey. UKBMS and BeeWalk also help you register on the website where you input your results after each walk. Your findings go to each organisation to allow them to detect early warning signs of population declines, and to Sustrans to help us understand what wildlife is on sections of our National Cycle Network routes.

If you would like to take part in any of our wildlife surveys on the National Cycle Network in Scotland, please contact Laura White, Volunteer Coordinator (Routes) on [email protected].

Not sure where the National Cycle Network is in your area? Use our online map to find out.

Find out about volunteering opportunities in your area.