A Focus On Nature

A Focus On Nature

Ponking and longhorns in 2017 – Will Heeney

Happy New Year! In the first week of this shiny new year, we are hearing from seven AFON members on their hopes and plans for 2017.

As the last hours of 2016 play out, naturally thoughts turn to the year that has been and the year that will be. It’s New Year’s Eve and I’ve finally managed to find some time to write this short piece for AFON. Here are my thoughts on 2016 and what 2017 might bring.

My desk looks like a bomb has hit it with the tell tail signs of a biscuit and tea addict; empty packets here, the circular tea stain on the coaster there. It has been a bit of a mad rush to the end of 2016 due to my insect collection showing a small sign of a pest in one of the storage containers. Long story short, I put my collection into two storage boxes and used the freezers at university for a number of weeks in November. Throughout December, between selling Christmas trees and doing university work, I’ve been relabelling the entire collection which is somewhere around 300 specimens, with hand written labels and checking the identifications for the year one last time.

Going forward, instead of typing up and printing out the labels when I have a page full, I’ll be hand writing the labels there and then which will save so much time. I still haven’t managed to get through the whole lot and still have around 100 left to do as and when I can in the new year. Thankfully it didn’t stop me entering into iRecord the last of the records for 2016. All typed up, I have now sent all the data to anyone that doesn’t receive it via iRecord. Looking at the data, and it was something I was expecting, it has been a below average year with regards to the amount of records I have submitted and the number of species I have identified when compared with 2015. I summed up 2015 with a blog post called ‘2015 – The year that will be hard to beat’ and I wasn’t wrong.

Aside from not submitting as many records and not identifying as many species as I would have liked to in 2016, it did start well early on with Katy Potts and I taking on a national recording scheme. I can only speak on my behalf – I am sure that Katy would agree to the following – but taking on the National Longhorn Beetle Recording Scheme has to be the highlight of our entomological career so far. It kind of feels like being accepted into the British beetle and wider recorder community. Ultimately it is an honour to take on a recording scheme, made better by the fact that the family of beetles is the longhorns… I mean, have you seen them!?

Wasp Beetle, Clytus arietis (c) Will Heeney

Taking on the scheme has been the focus of two talks I have given this year, a 40-minute talk at the northern Coleopterists Meeting in Manchester and a speed talk at the NBN Conference in November. We have lots of exciting things planned for the recording scheme in 2017, sadly we aren’t in a position to detail any of it until more is finalised. Some links have been provided at the end of this post so you can keep in the loop about the longhorn beetle recording scheme.

Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle, Agapantha villosoviridescens (c) Will Heeney

Dotted throughout the post so far is the word university. 2017 will hopefully see me graduate from Nottingham Trent University with a BSc in Environmental Conservation. Looking forward, it could be a year that sees quite a few changes with the imminent and inevitable need to look for my first job in the environmental and conservation sector. It’ll be the culmination of four years of work and when I graduate I’ll be 30. Aside from the prospects of employment, I hope for nothing more than to get out much more, record more and identify more.

Will Heeney

Will Heeney is a student at Nottingham Trent University with a keen interest in invertebrates, pan-species listing and biological recording. He can usually be found out ‘ponking’ or curating the invertebrate collection acquiring from said ponking. Follow him via Twitter: @Theponker and via his blog: undergrowthecology.wordpress.com.

Follow the Longhorn Beetle Recording Scheme on Twitter: @NLonghornRS and join their Facebook group.

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