We all differ at this point I’m sure. For the record I take my field notebook and make a computerised record of the day, possibly adding a bit of narrative (if the mood takes me). If I have recorded a particularly early or late date for a migrant, a high count or a ‘new’ species for a site/county, then these will be entered into another data base. If I’m involved in any survey then the records will be uploaded via the relevant software. Photographic mages that I have taken will also be sorted and filed. I try to do this on the very same day, so as not to get a backlog as much as to ensure that I remember to actually do it.
I have a cupboard full of notebooks, trip reports and lists. It is a personal history of my time in the field (1974 to date). Although most of the important and valuable records have been sent to local bird clubs, lepidoptera and botanical recorders, the BTO and the like, the notebooks still remain a very useful resource. I have often had to get them out and go through them to extract information for specific requests. I can, if time permits, luxuriate in a little time travelling, by picking up a volume at random and reading it for pleasure (or not, if a particularly painful dip is relived). I might decide to collate a list for a particular site years after my first visit there. If I do, all the information is here.
There must be thousands of such notebooks residing in thousands of amateur naturalist’s houses up and down the country. Much of the information contained within them will be in the public domain already, either with the relevant recorders or having been posted on the internet. But don’t lose sight of the source material – the original notes. You never know when you may want to revisit them!
I look at my cherished pile of notebooks and wonder what will become of them when I’m no longer around to add to them. My family insist that they will keep them, to look after them, although I can visualise the skip being lowered onto the driveway minutes after I’ve been laid to rest...