An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

How to be a good ClimateWatcher

18 July 2014

People often ask us what makes a good ClimateWatch sighting. Is it brilliant photo? Detailed comments? Capturing an unusual event?

There are a number of things that we look for when checking your observations. Here are a few tips on how to be a good ClimateWatcher.

Download the quick guide on being a good ClimateWatcher here.


Some ClimateWatch species are only located in particular regions of Australia. Make sure you have identified the right species by using the field guides available online, and the info on the ClimateWatch app. Other mobile field guides available from your local museum will also help.

The Lemuroid possum (top) is a ClimateWatch indicator species that only lives in tropical Queensland. Possums sighted in southern Australia (like the brush-tailed fellow below) are unlikely to be this species. Images: Atlas of Living Australia, Stephen Zozaya.

ClimateWatch is interested in the behaviour of a species as well as its location. Watch for species that are doing something particularly different to what you would normally see. For example, looking for swooping or nesting behaviour in the Australian magpie (Cracticus tibicen), which only happens during breeding season.

Alternatively if you have a ClimateWatch species that you see all the time (like in your backyard), record an observation every couple of weeks, to get an idea of changes throughout the year.


Do your best to submit a photo with each sighting. Make sure it is your own photo, not a friend's or one from the Internet. ClimateWatch is only interested in wild animals, so please do not submit any sightings of caged birds.

The perfect ClimateWatch photo is a close up of the species. For trees, this means a picture of the leaves or seeds, so our species experts can verify what you've seen. For animals, try to zoom in or get close to the species before taking the shot. Make sure you stay safe though!

These two images are submitted sightings of the sweet scented wattle (Acacia suaveolens). The shot on the left is a close up of leaves and flowers, making it easy for ClimateWatch species advisors to identify the plant. The image on the right however, makes it hard to determine the precise species.


The ClimateWatch smartphone app can be a bit fiddly, so remember these little tips. When submitting your sighting, touch the camera icon to take a photo, rather than the 'Take Photo' text. Press the white space to the right of the other options to fill these in.


If the app is not responding, try pressing the camera icon to take a photo, or the white space on the right of the categories to enter details.

It's a good idea to leave some notes in the Additional Comments section if you have time, to verify where you are and what you saw.

If you are ClimateWatching in a group, it is still important that all of you submit a sighting with a unique photo from your smartphone. This makes the data more reliable.


When you get back to a computer, login to the ClimateWatch website and make sure your sightings have been uploaded. View your sightings in the My Accounts section (at the top right). From this page you can edit your sightings to add images and change details. If you want the sighting to be removed, write 'PLEASE DELETE' in the comments section.

Selecting the View All link should take you to a complete list of your sightings. Clicking on the blue date on the left will show you all of the sighting details, including photos.