Twenty years ago to the day, on Sunday 26th January 1992, I became a coleopterist! I was birding at Dungeness but turned over a stone and collected my first beetle. I was steeling myself for hours at the microscope, poring over victorian textbooks and baffling anatomical diagrams. But actually I just took it into work and showed it to Brian Eversham, my boss at the time, who instantly identified it as Agonum albipes with just a glance! Until then, I really admired the sort of birders who could call a flyover Richard’s Pipit, and I hadn’t realised that the sort of field ID skills that birders have could be applied to beetles. Keying things out at the microscope and working with museum collections is a big part of getting to know the beetles but a lot of species can be identified in the field. Some can even be identified in flight! My beetling career took off straight away and I have never stopped.
I’ve got all my beetle records from the first twenty years in a MapMate database: I suspect very few other coleopterists have been in that position. So I’ve taken the opportunity to look back at the records and do a bit of analysis. I’ll be giving a talk about the results at Coleopterists’ Day next weekend so I won’t spoil the talk by revealing them here now. But for a taster, here’s a map of all the 10-km squares where I’ve recorded beetles in the last 20 years.