For a few years now, I have set myself targets for numbers of new species to see and record. These are often aspirational and don’t really mean much that much to me when push comes to shove. I really enjoy recording new species but get disheartened easily but reading about how wonderful other people are. So, this year I am deciding to do things differently and focus my attentions a bit more, and to focus on the enjoyment that the process of recording and contributing to conservation brings me. Don’t get me wrong, I will still be keeping a list of the number of species I have recorded (recording for me is the important bit, not just seeing something), but I will be focussing on increasing my knowledge of 4 groups. These groups will be bees, botany, bryophytes and beetles (bit of a ‘B’ theme I know!)
I have a real passion for bumblebees and solitary bees and will continue to work on this group in 2019. The new ‘Handbook of the Bees of the British Isles’ came out last year and I look forward to properly reading and using this. I have taken on the role as aculeate hymenoptera recorder for VC32, Northamptonshire, this will give me a chance to make a difference to a really under recorded county. I am also doing a number of workshops this year. I will be doing 5 days of workshops for the FSC Biolinks Project and delivering a Bumblebee workshop for the Wildlife Trust. I am also giving a talk on bumblebees at the Northamptonshire Natural History Society.
I believe botanical knowledge is essential for any conservationist and I really enjoy recording vascular plants. I gained a level 4 field identification skills certificate so can competently record a variety of plants. However as I get further out of my comfort zone and explore other geographical areas and trickier groups such as grasses, sedges, ferns etc, I become more unstuck so plan to focus on being a better botanist this year too and make less assumptions, really checking IDs.
Bryophytes (Mosses, liverworts and Hornworts) really are amazing plants and are best surveyed in winter when everything else is quieter. I really enjoyed recording them in 2018 so aim to improve upon my knowledge in 2019.
Beetles are highly diverse and amazing insects. I have a grasp of a number of beetle groups which I aim to revisit this year, such as ground beetles, longhorn beetles, soldier beetles, dung beetles etc. I started on water beetles last year so hope to do more on them this year. I also plan to try some trickier groups such as the weevils and leaf beetles by attending a couple of workshops. How exciting!
For those interested, in 2018 I recorded over 1500 species, 462 of these were new for me. Bringing my total number of species recorded in Britain to 2926.