The mornings and afternoons seem to have gotten dramatically cooler over the past couple of weeks and, if you can believe it, today is the first day of Fall! One of the great benefits of keeping a nature journal is the ability to track seasonal changes over time by looking at plant and animal life in a specific location. The branch of science that studies these changes is called phenology.
Phenology uses seasonal indicators such as when plants are in bloom, if certain colors are present in a landscape, what animals are most active, and many other indicators to track long term changes. Often, these changes are looked at through the lens of how climate change is affecting an area. As many of us know, climate change is a significant consideration when thinking about the future of our planet and learning how we can better serve the natural world around us by reducing our carbon footprints.
One of the great ways to keep a record of the phenology of an area is to track seasonal changes in our nature journals! Below are some prompts taken from Clare Walker Leslie’s The Nature Connection and Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth. All activities can be done throughout the year, not only in September!
It can be helpful to divide your journal page into sections to encourage you to focus on one thing at a time. What colors are you seeing? What sounds are you hearing? What are you observing that indicates it may be September?
2. Create a Nature Quest!
Based on what you know about the Fall and September, create your very own scavenger hunt to guide you through a walk! You can create a checklist, add observations and make notes about what you are seeing. Try to go on a Nature Quest a couple of times throughout the month to see if any of your observations change.
3. Start People Watching!
All of these prompts can be done during any month or any season. Keeping track of changes throughout year helps us to become better naturalists and hone in our observation skills. Knowing what to expect during different times of the year can help us be more tuned in to anything unusual or out of the ordinary happening during the seasons. As always, nature journals are for our thoughts, questions and observations and it is completely up to you to decide how you would like to format and record information. Until next week, happy journaling!
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