Identification / Recording Apps

Apps used for ID and Recording by MKNHS members

At the MKNHS members evening on 4th April 2023, various members talked about the apps they use as identification and recording aids. The following is a summary of information about the apps mentioned. (Thanks to Linda Murphy for compiling it.)

Some are purely identification tools, handy to use from your phone or tablet. A few are also recording channels: for instance, BirdTrack and iRecord.

Also in the list below are 3 location finders (what3words, GridReferenceFinder and OS Maps) which enable you to pinpoint where the sighting was made.

General question
Is there a danger of ‘double counting’? Advice is that you should only enter a record once, not on multiple systems.

BirdTrack, Free App: Produced by the British Trust for Ornithology. An app for recording birds seen at a specific location. Can be used for lists of birds, or individual casual records. A way of making bird lists that you might keep anyway count towards national data. Can be used in any country, wherever you are. Can also be used to record some other groups such as mammals and dragonflies.

For information go to: About the BirdTrack app | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology
Register/create an account with BTO first. Then look for the App in app stores for iOS or Android devices.

What’s Flying Tonight, Free App for moth ID: App developed by Butterfly Conservation in partnership with Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and UKMoths. Uses the millions of records gathered through Butterfly Conservation’s National Moth Recording Scheme, to provide an illustrated list of the larger moth species seen at this time of year in your area. With moth images, flight charts and the frequency that each species has been recorded based on your location and the date, What’s Flying Tonight can help with species identification. For more details and to download the app:
What’s Flying Tonight | Butterfly Conservation (
What’s Flying Tonight (

What’s Flying Tonight is designed to work like an app from a smartphone or tablet, but will also work from a computer. It can use the GPS in your device to automatically locate the correct moth records, but you can also manually change the date and location.

A more local site where you can check what has been seen is

iRecord, Free App: Produced through a partnership between the Biological Records Centre and  Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. They state:
“The goal of iRecord is to make it easier for wildlife sightings to be collated, checked by experts and made available to support research and decision-making at local and national levels.  Join iRecord now to share your sightings with the recording community, explore dynamic maps and graphs of your data and make a real contribution to science and conservation.

Please log in or register to get started.  You can submit records without logging in, but many of the site’s facilities will not be available unless you are logged in.”

Can be used on mobile phone or laptop. To register and find out more, go to:
Home | iRecord

Stellarium Mobile Free App: a planetarium app that shows exactly what you see when you look up at the stars. Identify stars, constellations, planets, comets, satellites (such as the ISS), and other deep sky objects in real time in the sky above you in just a few seconds, just by pointing the phone at the sky!

Look for the App in app stores for iOS or Android devices.

Picture This, approximately £30/year: Found useful for Plant ID, especially horticultural specimens. Approximately £30/year. Available in app stores for iOs or Android devices

If you don’t do the 7-day trial and click on the x in the upper right hand, it lets you continue as just an identifier but not ‘recording’.
I found it to be very American, unfortunately. And if you are an amateur, like me, it’s hard to judge.

PictureThis App – Online plant encyclopedia and plant identifier (

Seek, Free App: Produced by iNaturalist. Used for plant ID by scanning the specimen you want to ID with the Seek App camera.

Comment: I find it very variable.  Sometimes spot-on, sometimes miles off (eg American species).  Sometimes extraordinarily vague: I pointed it at some kind of scabious and Seek triumphantly told me it was … a dicotyledon!

Available in app stores for iOs or Android devices

For more information; Seek by iNaturalist · iNaturalist

what3words, Free App: a way of pinpointing locations all over the world. Can be used to record exact location of a sample of a species, or a meeting point. Now used by the Emergency Services

Comments from users: What3Words suffers from the potential for typos which can send you to the wrong place!   But that applies to almost any map reference system. Not so reliable when out walking in the hills.

Download the free what3words app | what3words

Or go straight to app stores for iOs or Android devices.

Grid Reference Finder, free Laptop or mobile version. Search by entering location details or post code or what3words to find grid reference along with all the other location information

Grid Reference Finder

OS Maps App, Premium Subscription Current Price £28.99: Unlimited use of every OS Explorer and OS Landranger map for the whole of Great Britain. Instant access to 607 maps to view, print, or download to your phone – all included in the subscription. Allows you to plan routes around reserve, pinpoint locations etc

Comment: May not work so well in the hills/mountainous areas. Best to download the map or print off for such areas. Comes with Aerial 3D layer so you can  “Fly-through a route to get a good understanding of the terrain, find the best viewpoints and discover nearby points of interest.”

OS Maps App | Get Unlimited UK mapping on mobile & online (

Available in app stores for iOs or Android devices

Collins Bird Guide App, for use on iPads £14.99 (one-off payment):
Essentially the book, with additional features such as option to play recordings of bird songs/calls and compare them. Found to be easier to carry around than the book.

Collins Bird Guide on the App Store (

Bird Net, Free App: A resource to help identify Bird calls and Songs The website says: ‘when you download and open it, and you can immediately see a recording screen. Record the sounds of your environment. Select an interval including bird sounds. Notice that the interval shouldn’t be too short. Click the “analyze” button and wait for a few seconds. The app will provide you with the most likely species of birds you just hear.’

Comment: Produced/managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, so has an American bias, but includes UK birds in its database, and gives a probability rating for the identification. (Almost certain / Highly likely / Likely / Uncertain / Highly Uncertain)

Available in app stores for iOs or Android devices

Xeno-canto, Free website.  Website introduction says:Xeno-canto is a website dedicated to sharing wildlife sounds from all over the world. Whether you are a research scientist, a birder, or simply curious about a sound that you heard out your kitchen window, we invite you to listen, download, and explore the wildlife sound recordings in the collection.

But xeno-canto is more than just a collection of recordings. It is also a collaborative project. We invite you to share your own recordings, help identify mystery recordings, or share your expertise in the forums. Welcome!’

You can look up a bird and hear recordings made in locations all over the world, a chance to compare ‘accents’. Now more recordings of orthoptera and other insects are being added and they hope to start adding mammals in the future

xeno-canto :: Sharing wildlife sounds from around the world

If you just want to hear many recordings of the calls or songs of a specific species, then is a brilliant website with just one draw-back: it’s designed for use on a PC and is hard to use on a phone.
I use the voice note on my iPhone for all my bird song recordings – it works very well but only for reference and you can download the notes.

Nabu Vogelwelt, Free App. Produced by German equivalent of RSPB. Contents available in English. Includes videos and information about eggs, nests etc.

Available in app stores for iOs or Android devices:
NABU Vogelwelt – Vögel Entdeck – Apps on Google Play

Flora incognita, Free App Useful for plant ID. European focus so does not suggest American species, and fairly accurate. Use camera within app which then suggests the ID. You can save your observations. Available in English.

Available in app stores for iOs or Android devices
Flora Incognita | EN – The Flora Incognita app – Interactive plant species identification

Google Lens: Not an app exactly, but go to and there is a camera icon at the right of the search bar. Click on this, and you can drag and drop any image and it will do its best to identify it – so can be used for any flora and fauna, vertebrates and invertebrates etc. (as well as buildings, landscapes – anything, in fact.)  Worth a look, but treat identifications with caution!