A Focus On Nature

A Focus On Nature

The year of recording – Alex Berryman

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.

2016 was a mess. Celebrity deaths, ongoing conflict and political upheaval culminated in a year that most will not reflect upon fondly. From an environmental perspective, the past 12 months have been similarly bleak with the election of a consistent refuter of climate change as president of the US, and the UK now proudly able to boast of an environment minister whose remarkable logic includes: “if those with the big fields do the sheep, and those with the hill farms do the butterflies…that would make a lot more sense” – so that’s where conservation has been going wrong…

On a more personal note, 2016 was actually rather enjoyable with 2 trips to Spain, a 5 week stint helping to research Great Green Macaws in Costa Rica and a whole host of British fauna seen for the first time. I began to tackle new taxa, primarily hoverflies & bees, and continued to develop my interests in birds, Odonata, Lepidoptera and Orthoptera – all of which I will be striving to continue and expand upon in the next year. In particular, I hope to increase engagement of people (particularly us younger folk!) in Odonata, which are frequently neglected in the myriad of interest in birds and butterflies.

So onto 2017, the obscurity of which is petrifying everyone (bar the minority who still think Brexit is actually a sensible and reasoned idea). Apart from the inevitable breakdown of civilisation, I’m looking forward to the next 12 months. In April I am spending 2 weeks biodiversity auditing in Swaziland, and in July I embark on a year-long study abroad programme to New South Wales, Australia – both exciting and terrifying in equal measure. In the meantime, I’ve got six months to continue learning, discovering and crucially, recording!

The (free) iRecord app launched last year has almost eliminated the need for time-consuming personal excel spreadsheets, allowing records to be swiftly inputted into the user-friendly interface. My use of iRecord in 2016 was less than dedicated, providing a rather pitiful 400 records (though with an additional backlog of 300 to input) over the course of the year. The most obvious new year’s resolution therefore – and one I would encourage any naturalists to take on – is to studiously record as many sightings as possible in 2017. By far the most rewarding aspect of 2016 was spending time exploring areas with an absence of records – especially when sightings yielded an automated “new 10km square” message on iRecord.

In the same vein, despite being a keen birder, I have never adopted the use of BirdTrack, usually excusing myself with the idea that someone else will do it! In 2017; I intend to change this also. Not only do these provide a direct link between your records and the relevant recording schemes/the BRC (Biological Records Centre), it also allows you store and search through your sightings in a format that – unlike a notebook – cannot be lost!

Alex Berryman is a 19 year old wildlife photographer and naturalist from Hampshire, who is currently an Ecology undergraduate at the University of East Anglia. Follow him via Twitter: @AlexJB497 and his blog: ueabirder.blogspot.co.uk

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