Holidays have a way of turning all of us into wildlife enthusiasts as unfamiliar birds, insects and animals swoop and scurry across our paths.

Monarch butterfly.

Monarch butterfly. Image by Greg Hewgill / CC BY 2.0

And while most of us are up to speed on the common species of our home countries – once we get abroad, we are often left wondering what exactly it is we have just seen. There is – as the saying goes – an app for every eventuality and for people with curiosity about the flora and fauna of wherever they happen to be holidaying, it is no different.

Project Noah is one of the most thorough calling itself a “digital butterfly net” for nature enthusiasts. Once you sign up, you can submit spottings using photographs or videos and ask for help in identifying a particular species. Project Noah’s other members will then offer a suggestion of what the bird or animal may be and with thousands of experts signed up, it does not take long for a positive identification. Users can also follow members – no different to Twitter and other social media – who share their photos and videos of particular animals or birds.

ZipCodeZoo is another project in the same vein with more than 4.5 million different species listed with their app running searches for plants, animals, trees and birds. It even allows people to try and identify birds by their song. “To do this,” they said, “we examine our database of 249 million field observations, and determine how many [birds] are found near you. We then sort that list, and provide sounds and sonograms on the top birds in your area.”

Know your fungi with an app!

Know your fungi with an app! Image by Andrew / CC BY 2.0

There are apps for those with special interests, including Wild Mushrooms of North American and Europe – which offers plenty of sage advice on which fungi to bring home for dinner, and more importantly, those which might lead to the emergency room.

Other wildlife apps are even more specific giving the rundown of the dragonflies and damselflies of Britain and Ireland, or information on your nearest bat colony.